Dry Cleaners Struggle Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, January 22nd 2021, 9:47 am
By: CBS News

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many industries. Dry cleaners have been hit particularly hard. Americans working from home in casual wear no longer need to dry clean their work clothes. Business has also been hurt because of fewer parties, weddings, and other occasions to dress up.

The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute believes 30% of dry cleaners could be forced to shut down over the next 18 months. Those who remain open are trying to adjust.

Dawn Avery with the National Cleaners Association says, "Our plan is to, to help them reinvent themselves." She says many cleaners are now offering new services like alterations or wash and fold for families. "Because households are chaotic now with home schooling and working from home, and things you didn't have to do before," Avery adds.

Yale Cleaners opened in Oklahoma 75 years ago, but none of that experience could prepare them for the past year.

The president and owner of Yale Cleaners, John Rothrock, says, "our business currently is down about 35%." Yale Cleaners had to furlough several employees and close a location.

Yale Cleaners has adapted by adopting technology. It is now using the Yale Cleaners app so customers can pay online and request touchless pickup. The company is also offering same day delivery. "I think it definitely has helped to keep us in business. I've seen a lot of dry cleaners that their sales are still down 50%, 70% and we're sitting down around 35%." Rothrock says.

Dry cleaners hope the vaccine means there are brighter days ahead. Many are just trying to hold out until then.