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Annual Distributor Survey: Pandemic Economy Puts Dent in 2020 Business (Part 2)

Average new self-service laundry: 2.4 top loaders, 28.5 front loaders, 33.5 dryer pockets, 2,845 square feet

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.


Wonder what equipment that distributors are installing in new stores across the country? Here’s a quick analysis on trends, based on this year’s survey results.

Just shy of 32% of new stores in 2020 had at least one top loader. Past survey percentages were 33.3% in 2019, 41% in 2018, and 33% in 2017.

Self-service laundries newly built in 2020 have an average of 2.4 top loaders, compared to 1.9 per new store in 2019, 3.1 in 2018, 2.5 in 2017, and 3.2 in 2016. (These figures factor in new stores with no top loaders.)

Breaking it down, following are the most popular number of top loaders installed in new stores in 2020:

1) 0

2) 8

3) 6

When it comes to front loaders, vended laundries that were newly constructed in 2020 have an average of 28.5 machines. This compares to prior front-loader averages of 30.3 in 2019, 26.5 in 2018, 28.6 in 2017, and 33.3 in 2016.

The most common number of front loaders installed in newly constructed laundries in 2020 was:

1) 40

2) 20, 30 and 45 (tie)

Vended laundries that were newly constructed in 2020 have an average of 33.5 dryer pockets. This compares to an average of 34.4 in 2019, 27.8 in 2018, 33.4 in 2017, and 39.1 in 2016.

Following are the most common number of dryer pockets installed in newly built laundries in 2020:

1) 30 and 36 (tie)

3) 20, 32 and 40 (tie)


How do the new stores built in 2020 compare to earlier builds? Are they smaller and more manageable, or are they roomier?

The most popular store sizes, in square feet, reported in this year’s survey were:

1) 2,500

2) 3,000 and 3,500 (tie)

Stores constructed in 2020 that are 2,000 square feet or less account for 21.1% of the total, while 52.6% are between 2,001 and 3,000 square feet.

These figures compare to the 14.8% of stores measuring 2,000 square feet or less and the 48.1% covering between 2,001 and 3,000 square feet reported for 2019.

The largest newly constructed vended laundry built in 2020 was reported to cover 13,500 square feet, while the smallest measures just 700 square feet.

The average newly constructed vended laundry store for 2020 covers 2,845 square feet, which is slightly smaller than the 2,990-square-foot average of last year’s survey. Some prior averages are 2,948 (2018), 2,824 (2017), and 3,132 (2016).

On average, a newly built store sold for $429,563 in 2020 (distributors were asked to exclude the cost of land and building). Prior average sale prices were $497,864 (2019), $460,238 (2018), $520,045 (2017), and $558,097 (2016).

To read Part 1, click here, and check back Tuesday for the conclusion: new-store profiles over the years, other business, and the annual forecast

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].