London’s dry cleaning firms could be the next casualty of the coronavirus crisis as workers continue to stay away from city centres, the industry has warned.
A sustained drop in the number of office workers and tourists visiting central London could put many dry cleaning businesses at risk of closure.
The government has launched a campaign to get workers back into offices due to fears that city centre economies could collapse without the usual influx of commuters.
The latest figures from Springboard showed that footfall in central London was down 55.4 per cent year-on-year last week, although it increased 6.8 per cent compared to the previous week,
According to the latest data from dry cleaning service Ihateironing, central London previously accounted for 25 per cent of revenue.
The figure has fallen to five per cent after the coronavirus lockdown.
The firm’s main central London cleaning centre used to process more than 1,000 garments a day, which has dropped to between 150 to 200.
In comparison, other major global cities have reported a stronger recovery, with the firm’s Manhattan business already at pre-Covid levels.
However outer London has rebounded as people have continued to work at home.
“It will be very difficult for the Central London cleaning centres to continue operations if the workers do not return to the offices soon” said Matt Connelly, founder and chief executive of Ihateironing.
The majority of the staff at our partner cleaning centres in Central London are currently furloughed and if the workers do not return to the City in the next month it will be very difficult for ours and other Central London cleaning centres to recover.”
Nadir Shah, one of Ihateironing’s partner dry cleaners in Central London, added “It’s not been easy, for 5 years I worked night and day to build up the business in Central London.
“We were really starting to thrive and now we just have to make it through the year. All the other small businesses on Grays Inn Road are worried about the future as well.”