In an e-mail sent shortly after this survey began to circulate, Mark Thorsby, executive director of the International Carwash Association, pointed out there is no concrete evidence proving a decline in carwash volumes is due to rising fuel costs. “The matter of [carwash] volumes is far more sophisticated than the price of gas,” Thorsby wrote. “To report otherwise allows [carwash] operators to once again justify poor performance on something other than poor performance and that is a disservice to our industry.”
According to Thorsby, in the ICA’s 2008 Study of Car Washing Attitudes and Habits report, not released as of press time, there are facts and figures that would put an end to the theorizing, debating and fretting about gas prices. Thorsby says the new consumer survey (conducted every three years by the ICA) proves consumers are not concerned about gas prices.
PC&D was unable to obtain a copy of the report, but it is apparent from our survey that most of the 234 readers who answered the survey believe that rising gas prices and declining volumes are in some way connected. Many readers also attributed poor volumes to poor weather patterns and to an overall poor economy. Some operators pointed out that while volume had remained steady, ticket averages had notably decreased. Notably, this survey did not seek any data from consumers – so it looks like the jury’s still out.