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The Impacts of COVID-19 on the Laundry Sector

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is on the decline in terms of its impact and reach on Americans’ overall health, its economic impact continues to spread. From layoffs to furloughs, from laundry businesses having to close down temporarily to closing up shop completely, the ripple effects that the outbreak has had and will continue to have on the national and global economies is unprecedented.

Practically every industry has been susceptible to COVID-19’s destructive path, and that includes the laundry and dry cleaning sectors, which are heavily dependent on customers dropping off and picking up their items in person. Over the last few months, Americans from coast to coast have hunkered down behind closed doors to slow the spread of the virus, which means that regular trips to the drycleaners or the laundromat has been pushed back.

While the Laundry and Linen Services  market is still expected to see growth over the next few years, its immediate outlook for 2020 is not so rosy. In fact, the sector is expected to decline from $106.2 billion in 2019 to $104 billion in 2020. While this may not seem like a major dip, it’s been enough to close some doors or at least have business owners rethink their business strategy for the rest of the year.

What’s the Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Laundry Services?

For many, dropping off some clothes or picking up finished items from a drycleaner, or running a quick wash at the local laundromat after coming home from work is pretty common. But with many Americans still working from home, the need to go out and use these services has declined. Even with stay-at-home orders lifted in all states, the new normal has arguably settled in, pushing more Americans to rethink their daily routines. This has put a damper on laundry and dry cleaning businesses throughout the United States.

If a dry cleaner is used to running 500 items on a daily basis, they may be working with 50 pieces today. This obviously tightens the vice around a business’s earnings, but it also hurts their staff. If there’s not enough business coming in, some staff has to be let go and the remaining staff has to take on more tasks, stretching them thin.

When it comes to the commercial laundry industry, the economic domino effect is even more evident. For example, the American hotel industry has already seen a $25 million loss in room revenue with 7 out of 10 hotel rooms empty as of late May. With rooms not being booked and less travelers needing a change of towels and bed sheets, third-party laundry services have taken a hit as well.

A Mobile Future

While the industry is set to see a rebound later this year, especially after summer traveling gets into full swing, the need for an alternative to traditional services in the industry is more important than ever. Since most people have stopped going to laundromats and dry cleaners temporarily due to health concerns, the answer to the industry’s problem may be in the palm of their hand.

Mobile apps are catering to the growing need for an on-demand approach to laundry and dry cleaning. With so many Americans opting for delivery or curbside food pickup, the laundry sector is starting to see the potential of the same kind of tech-savvy option.

Mobile laundry apps allow customers to remotely order dry-cleaning or laundry service, share their preferences, and request delivery. On-demand laundry service providers come pick up clothes from customers, clean, and deliver them back at a preferred time. During this process, the customer can stay informed via text message push notification, such as estimated date and time of drop off and total cost of the service.

While laundry and linen services have offered this kind of online or full-service delivery-style option for a few years, the push to go mobile and bring the business to the customer is at a crucial point to adapt to a post-pandemic business model.


About Irving Weber Associates

At Irving Weber Associates, Inc., we understand what it takes to run a successful Dry Cleaner, Commercial/Textile Service or Laundromat business, including investing in a comprehensive Fabricare Advantage Insurance Program to ensure that you are financially protected against legal claims. Our program includes specialty coverages including Environmental and General Liability, Property, Site Pollution Liability, Boiler & Machinery, Business Auto, and many more. For a detailed look at how we can safeguard your business with a custom-tailored package, please contact our specialists today at (855) 764-7406.