CHICAGO — Some analysts say that the American recession is over, and while self-service laundry operators in the Northeast may agree, operators in other areas probably don’t feel as fortunate. Operators in the Northeast reported an increase in sales for the month of September compared to the same month last year as well as the third quarter, but the other three regions polled all continued their downward trend, according to a recent AmericanCoinOp.com StatShot survey.When comparing September 2009 to the same month last year, laundry owners in the Northeast report an average 5.4% increase in sales. At the same time, however, the West reported a 12.2% decrease. The South and Midwest also reported declining sales, with 7.0% and 4.7%, respectively.The Northeast also reported a sales increase in the third quarter of 2009 compared to third-quarter 2008, with laundry owners in the region experiencing an average 5.2% increase. In the West, operators report an average 11.7% drop. In the Midwest, sales were down 6.3%, and in the South, sales fell 5.2% for the quarter.Some operators in the Northeast attribute their success to good business practices. “Customers [are] very price-sensitive,” said one. “[It’s] important to do all the basics — customer service, [have] working machines, etc.”The economy in general seems to be the biggest problem for laundry owners in the hardest-hit Western region. “Customers tell me they are washing clothes in bathtubs and wearing the same clothes for several uses before washing,” said one. “The largest employer in the county, a copper mine, has cut back operations to ... keep the permit on the mine active. It has happened before.”AmericanCoinOp.com’s StatShot includes information on sales, wages, costs and other financial data based on anonymous survey information provided by industry owners and operators. Subscribers to American Coin-Op’s Wire e-mails are invited to participate in these unscientific surveys, which are conducted online via a partner website, on a regular basis. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define industry trends.Click here and follow the menu instructions to sign up for the free e-mail service.