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Dry cleaners are closing down everywhere: Here's why

Industry experts predict up to 30% of dry cleaners will close in the next 12-14 months. It all comes down to a change in how we work and what we wear.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Lots of businesses were hit hard by the pandemic but experts say COVID-19 may have accelerated the decline of dry cleaners. 

As it turns out, the pandemic may have dealt a final blow to the already struggling industry, all because of a change in how we work

Let's connect the dots. 

The industry was already having problems before 2020. And with most workplaces already shifting to a less formal dress code, people were buying more wash-and-wear fabrics. Then, when COVID-19 hit and so many people began working from home, business plummeted even further. 

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Now, people are starting to return to the office but not necessarily in the suits and skirts they wore before. Instead, they're looking for business clothes that are more comfortable, which means no dry cleaning required. 

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Experts now predict 30% of dry cleaners nationwide to close in the next 12-14 months. 

According to the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute, the real problem isn't just the loss of stores, but a reliable business for immigrants. In years past, being a dry cleaner was a promising path to middle class life for new arrivals to the U.S. 

Now, that path is looking a lot bumpier. 

Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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