CHICAGO — In three of the four regions, more operators saw sales rise in August (compared to August 2009), yet a number of large losses offset these gains, yielding small monthly revenue drops, according to the most recent AmericanCoinOp.com StatShot survey.When assessing sales for the first half of 2010, respondents cited rising expenses as a detriment to boosting sales.In the Midwest, August sales dropped 1%. Forty-six percent of respondents reported an increase in sales, with 30% experiencing a drop in sales. Sales remained the same for 24% of respondents.Several Midwestern respondents described the business climate as “erratic.” Yet others believe conditions are finally starting to turn for the better. “It seems as if we have hit bottom and things are on the rise,” a Midwestern respondent notes.Nearly half of the Southern operators (47%) recorded small sales bumps in August, but overall monthly sales were down 3%. Several operators experienced a 20% sales drop.The Western region continues its yearly struggle, as half of the respondents experienced a sales decrease. Monthly sales were down 3.25%.Things are looking up a bit in the Northeast. Seventy percent of respondents saw a bump in business. However, a handful of large sales decreases kept the monthly tally “neutral” (0%). “I am confident enough in business conditions to resume price increases, which I had delayed up until now,” says a Northeastern operator.Respondents were also asked about their profits in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. Rising expenses are making sales gains difficult, survey results reveal.In the first half of the year, sales are down 3.5% for Midwestern operators. Southern operators saw sales fall 2.9%, while Northeastern operators experienced a similar fate (2.7% drop). Western respondents had the largest first-half sales decrease, 5%.When examining first-half sales, one Southern operator says utilities and rent are each up 11%. Another operator says rising utilities costs combined with the slow economy have made business conditions difficult.Western respondents share similar tales. “The sewer rates keep climbing,” says one operator. Another says water and electrical costs are “killing my profits.”AmericanCoinOp.com’s Statshot includes information on sales, wages, costs or 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. Self-service laundry operators 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.