Pandemic takes drastic toll on dry cleaners

In work-from-home era, 1 in 6 has closed or gone bankrupt

As workers trade in suits for sweatpants, 1 in 6 dry cleaners has closed or gone bankrupt (Getty)
As workers trade in suits for sweatpants, 1 in 6 dry cleaners has closed or gone bankrupt (Getty)

At J’s Cleaners, business had clawed up to 40 percent of pre-pandemic levels last month. But now, with Covid-19 soaring again, that number is expected to plummet.

“If this thing keeps dragging, many small businesses will close. Maybe I could be one of them,” owner Albert Lee, who plans to permanently shutter four of his 15 locations, told Bloomberg. He is losing $1,000 to $2,000 monthly per store.

As workers abandon suits for sweatpants, dry cleaners are having an existential crisis, the publication reported.

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One in six dry cleaners has closed or gone bankrupt in the U.S. already, and many won’t survive without more federal stimulus, according to the National Cleaners Association. The industry’s revenue is half of the $7 billion it enjoyed pre-Covid.

“It’s an ugly, ugly time,” said Nora Nealis, executive director at the trade group, which has more than 2,000 members. “Most of them are holding on with their fingernails in hope of help.”

[Bloomberg] — Sasha Jones