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Dry Cleaners Were Disappearing Even Before the Pandemic

Starched shirts just don’t have the same appeal they once did. But there are forces greater than the virus at work here.

relates to Dry Cleaners Were Disappearing Even Before the Pandemic

Illustration: George Wylesol for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent wholesale move to working from home have been tough on dry cleaners and professional laundries in the US. So has the 21st century.

The number of business establishments offering “dry-cleaning and laundry services, except coin-operated” fell to 16,497 in the first quarter of 2022 from 18,756 in the last quarter of 2019, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an annualized decline of nearly 6%. But it had already been falling at a 2% annual pace since 2001.