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Annual Distributor Survey: Pandemic Economy Puts Dent in 2020 Business (Conclusion)

2021 sales projections: 56.5% expect year’s sales to surpass 2020’s

CHICAGO — Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on day-to-day life since early 2020, you might expect that laundry distributor business may have suffered a bit last year.

Nearly 46% of distributors polled in the 2021 American Coin-Op Distributors Survey say that their total business—including sales of newly constructed vended laundries and replacement business—was better in 2020 compared to 2019. That’s some 21 percentage points lower than the year before.

Roughly 36% of respondents say their 2020 business was worse than 2019’s, while 18.2% say that business held steady compared to the prior year.

As for how distributors expect their 2021 overall sales will compare to those in 2020, 56.5% think things will be looking up, 21.7% believe their year-over-year sales will be unchanged, and 21.7% think their 2021 sales will be worse than 2020’s.

Distributors listed in the previous print edition of the American Coin-Op Distributors Directory were invited to participate in this year’s unscientific survey, which charts 2020 business and makes comparisons to previous years. In this three-part summary report, percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

NEW-STORE PROFILES OVER THE YEARS

How do these numbers from 2020 compare to distributor business performance in years past? Here is a quick recap of facts and figures.

The average newly constructed store in 2020 has 2.4 top loaders, 28.5 front loaders and 33.5 dryer pockets, and covers 2,845 square feet. Here’s how it compares to new store profiles from the past few years:

  • 2019: 1.9 top loaders, 30.3 front loaders, 34.4 dryer pockets, 2,990 square feet
  • 2018: 3.1 top loaders, 26.5 front loaders, 27.8 dryer pockets, 2,948 square feet
  • 2017: 2.5 top loaders, 28.6 front loaders, 33.4 dryer pockets, 2,824 square feet
  • 2016: 3.2 top loaders, 33.3 front loaders, 39.1 dryer pockets, 3,132 square feet

OTHER BUSINESS

Distributors were also asked if their company brokers vended laundries. Roughly 44% of respondents to this year’s survey say they do, compared to 26% in 2020, 34% in 2019, 31% in 2018 and 34% in 2017.

Approximately 48% of distributors polled operate a route laundry. That compares to 51.6% last year, 40.6% in 2019, 50% in 2018, 38.6% in 2017 and 36.2% in 2016.

The share of distributors that host an annual equipment show (either virtual or in-person) is 52.2%. That compares to 54.8% last year, 47.7% in 2019, 50% in 2018, 47.7% in 2017 and 57.5% in 2016.

DISTRIBUTOR FORECAST

How do distributors feel about 2021 overall sales, especially as our country continues to deal with uncertain business conditions stemming from the pandemic? For 56.5% of respondents, 2021 sales are expected to be better than those of 2020’s, while 21.7% believe they will be about the same. The remaining 21.7% believe that 2021 business will be worse than 2020 totals.

Miss any earlier parts? You can read them here: Part 1 - Part 2