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Survey: Top Loaders Popular Among Operators but Check Back in Five Years

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — More than 87% of self-service laundry operators polled in this month’s Wire survey said they have top loaders in their stores, but 44.8% believe only a small percentage of stores will have them five years from now.

The average number of top loaders reported per operator was 14. Some operators reported having more than 100 machines; it should be noted that the figures could have reflected multiple stores.

Operators who have top loaders were asked if they planned to keep them for the next several years. Roughly 70% said yes, 19.5% said no, and 10.4% are unsure.

Operators with no top loaders were asked why they don’t offer them. Respondents don’t use them primarily because they believe they are not energy-efficient (77.8%), front loaders generate more revenue (66.7%), and their capacity is too small (33.3%).

While the number of operators offering top loaders is sizable, many of the same respondents believe the days of the top loader are numbered.

Nearly 45% believe only a small percentage of stores will offer top loaders five years from now, and another 4.6% predict no top loaders will be in use. Approximately 39% believe there will be a slight drop-off in the numbers used, and 5.7% say the numbers of top loaders used in the industry will be unchanged. Another 5.7% are unsure. No one said there would be more top loaders in use.

While the Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take a brief industry survey anonymously online each month. All self-service laundry owners and operators are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.

To sign up for the Wire, click the “Subscriptions” button at the top right-hand corner of this page and follow the instructions.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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