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Are Vend Prices Finally Starting to Rise?

Dryer, top-loader prices starting to inch upCHICAGO, Ill. — How is the coin laundry industry faring? A sneak peek at the numbers shows that operators have been active when it comes to raising prices, according to the annual American Coin-Op State of the Industry survey, which will be featured in the April issue.Pricing is always a hot topic, and operators have been raising washer and dryer prices for several years in order to cope with rising utility costs. Two years ago, 35 percent of the survey respondents planned on raising washer prices; 23 percent planned on raising dryer prices. Last year, nearly 49 percent of the respondents said they were hiking washer prices, while 33 percent were doing the same with dryer prices.In 2007, 35 percent of the respondents say they will raise washer prices, while 21 percent intend to boost dryer pricing.The most popular dryer price continues to be 25 cents/8 minutes, however, there has been some shuffling in this category. There is now a tie for the No. 2 spot between 25 cents/7 minutes and 25 cents/6 minutes. Last year’s No. 2 choice, 25 cents/10 minutes, has tumbled to fourth place and is being challenged by 25 cents/5 minutes.Plenty of operators are still offering top loaders, and the price of choice is $1.50. The No. 2 choice is now $1.75 followed by $1.25. The $2 price is even starting to gain in popularity.The highest price for a top-load wash in this year’s survey is $3, while the lowest price is 75 cents.When it comes to larger front loaders, 50 pounds and larger, there is no consistent pricing pattern. For example, with 50-pound washers, the operators are fairly evenly split on what they charge, with the normal low-end price being $4.25 and the upper-end price being $5.While the prices have gone up, too slowly still for some, according to the survey, the whole pricing issue affects operators in different ways. The survey also asks operators to list the biggest problems they face in the industry. “Pricing concerns” is among the top problems. Operators still fear losing customers over the decision to raise prices, yet a good number of operators who have raised prices are critcial of the industry for being behind the times in terms of what is being charged.For complete survey results, including a look at how operator business fared in 2006 compared to 2005, don’t forget to check out the April issue of American Coin-Op and look for updates on AmericanCoinOp.com.

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