CHICAGO — With cotton prices at or near record highs for the last several months, textile manufacturers and suppliers faced with higher raw-material prices are passing at least some of the increases onto the institutions and businesses that buy their linens and uniforms.
Half of the respondents to American Laundry News’ Wire survey for this month say they’ve seen prices for the cotton-based textiles or garments they purchase jump 10-25%, while 31.3% of respondents say prices are up 25-50%. Equal percentages (9.4%) say prices have increased less than 10% or more than 50%.
The situation has prompted 31.3% of respondents to expand their supplier network or seek alternative resources, and another 25% say they haven’t made a move yet but are considering it. Roughly 44% say they have done neither and aren’t planning to do so.
Some 42% of respondents have changed their ordering pattern—either placing larger orders or ordering more frequently—out of fear that items may not be readily available over time. Most reported ordering in bulk before prices went up. Approximately 58% have made no changes.
“Textile-replacement budget issues are always a challenge,” wrote one respondent. “If we could get adequate budgets on time and as needed, we could save thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, we receive resources as management would dictate, therefore allocation … comes as dollars are made available—usually, the textile care operation is the last to receive much-needed dollars routinely.
“Linen supply operations are much more flexible and can exercise budgetary controls to match the rising cost of cotton/poly. (The) big question is how suppliers will react when cotton prices go down.”
The pricing trend has prompted many operators to make adjustments in house, chiefly by working with end-users or customers to prevent linen abuse (66.7%) and/or to reduce linen utilization (55.6%).
Other popular operational changes have been to adjust wash formulas to reduce rewash or extend linen life (48.1%), emphasize better soil sorting so goods are processed properly the first time (44.4%), and increase security of linen/garment inventories (37%).
Subscribers to American Laundry News’ Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to participate anonymously in a brief industry survey each month. While it presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, the survey should not be considered scientific.
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