CHICAGO — Self-service laundry owners struggled with plummeting sales in the month of July, with stores in the South experiencing the biggest decline, according to a recent AmericanCoinOp.com StatShot survey.Laundry owners in the South reported a 14.2% decrease in sales for July 2009 compared to July 2008, while storeowners in the West and Midwest followed closely behind with 9.6% and 8.9% drops, respectively. The Northeast fared the best in the month of July, but even that region reported a 3.2% drop.Laundry owners in the South also reported the highest cost of utilities in the country, with respondents in that region indicating that utilities were 26.7% of gross for July 2009 on average. Laundry owners in the Midwest report an average 24.1% and respondents in the West report an average 21.4%. Owners in the Northeast fared best in this area as well, reporting an average of 18.0% of gross for the month.Some survey respondents seem to indicate that the struggling economy may be a factor in the declining sales. “People wear their clothes longer and wait longer before coming in to wash,” said a storeowner in the struggling South. “I thought I was in a recession-proof business. I’m feeling the pinch,” added a storeowner in the West.For some respondents, self-service sales have actually held steady, however; it’s extra services that are struggling. “Self-service is doing OK,” says an owner in the Northeast, who also reports a “decrease of 10-15% for wash, dry & fold customers.”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.