CHICAGO — After COVID-19 ravaged 2020’s self-service laundry profits, the industry rebounded in 2021. Based on results from this year’s American Coin-Op annual State of the Industry survey, many self-service laundry owners and operators are still working their way back.
But despite any challenges left by the pandemic and more recently by inflation and higher costs, roughly three of every four owners polled this year say their total business improved in 2022.
The annual State of the Industry Survey report provides many statistics valuable to store owners and investors who wish to compare their operations to the industry average. This year’s survey focused on 2022-23 business conditions, vend pricing, equipment, turns per day and utilities cost.
When asked about their 2022 business results, respondents were given the opportunity to state whether their results were up, down or unchanged. (Surveys conducted prior to 2012 asked only if business was up or down, so keep this in mind if you’re making comparisons to results of that vintage.)
The annual survey is an unscientific, online poll of American Coin-Op readers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding or other factors.
Part 1 examined the characteristics of the self-service laundry audience, while Part 2 analyzed year-over-year self-service business, drop-off wash/dry/fold, commercial laundry, and vending sales performance. Let’s continue:
HOW MUCH FOR A WASH?
Respondents were asked to report how much they charge for a variety of washes.
Roughly 46% of operators surveyed, compared to 62% in 2022, offer top loaders at their store(s). The price range for a top-load wash is $2.00 to $4.75.
Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the shares of respondents charging them:
- $3.00 (20.0%)
- $2.00 (16.7%)
- $2.50 and $3.50 (tie, 13.3%)
These prices virtually mirror those reported last year, with the addition of $3.50 as the only differentiator.
The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:
- 18 pounds: $3.00
- 20 pounds: $3.00
- 25 pounds: $4.00
The lowest price reported in this group was $2.00 (18 pounds) while the highest price was $5.50 (25 pounds).
The price range for a 30-pound wash is $3.50 to $8.00. Following are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who charge them:
- $5.00 (19.2%)
- $4.00 (15.4%)
- $4.50 (13.5%)
Prices for a 35-pound wash currently range from $4.75 to $6.50.
The price range for a 40-pound wash is $4.25 to $9.00. Following are the most popular 40-pound prices, along with the percentage of operators who charge them:
- $6.00 (25.5%)
- $5.00 (11.8%)
- $4.75 and $5.50 (tie, 9.8%)
Prices for a 50-pound wash currently range from $5.00 to $8.00. For the 55-pounder, it’s from $6.50 to $10.25.
The price range for a 60-pound wash is $5.50 to $10.00. Following are the most popular 60-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who charge them:
- $8.00 (23.1%)
- $7.00 (15.4%)
- $6.75 and $9.00 (tie, 11.5%)
Operators who offer 75-pounders are charging between $8.25 and $11.00 per wash.
The price range for an 80-pound wash is $7.00 to $14.00. Following are the most popular 80-pound prices, along with percentages of operators who charge them:
- $10.00 (23.7%)
- $9.00 (15.8%)
- $8.50 and $12.00 (tie, 7.9%)
Prices charged by operators for a 90-pound wash today range from $10.00 to $16.00. For a 100-pound wash, the price range is $8.00 to $10.75.
Operators who respond to American Coin-Op’s unscientific survey vary year to year, which could account for the variety of prices reported. Respondents were asked to provide prices for front loaders of 14 traditional capacities, plus were given the option to list others.
Among all the washer capacities, the 20-pounder (14 prices), 40-pounder (15 prices) and 80-pounder (18 prices) have the broadest pricing among operators surveyed.
TURNS PER DAY
Turns per day refers to the number of cycles (turns) that each of a store’s machines completes daily. For each machine class (top loader or front loader), you can calculate this using total cycles for a one-week period divided by the total number of machines in the class, then dividing by seven.
At present, the average turns per day for top loaders among respondents is 3.3, which is a tick lower than the 3.4 average logged in last year’s survey.
For front loaders, the average number is 4.1 turns per day, compared to an average of 4.6 registered in 2022.
Respondents were asked to list their current prices for their dryers as “25 cents for X minutes.” As in previous years, a variety of responses was reported.
Most popular among this year’s respondents—at 22.9%—is 25 cents for 5 minutes. It marks the first time in seven years that 25 cents for 6 minutes wasn’t the top choice; it was, however, second at 20.5%.
Coming in third were 25 cents for 4 minutes and for 8 minutes (tie, 12.0%).
American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2023, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.
Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (78.1%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by year’s end. Roughly 6% say they have no such plans, and the remaining 15.6% are undecided.
As for dryer prices, 45.3% say they have raised, or plan to raise, their prices this year. Roughly 20% say they have not and aren’t planning to this year. Roughly 34% are undecided.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!
Miss earlier parts of this report? You can read them here: Part 1 — Part 2
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].