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Vending machine industry revenue plunged to a 10-year low in 2011, according to Automatic Merchandiser.The industry generated only $18.96 billion in sales, down from a peak of $23.21 billion in 2007.
This is a stunning indicator of how bad things have gotten.
First of all it’s a sign of how many fewer Americans are working. The collapse was most pronounced in manufacturing, which represents 31 per cent of all vending machine locations:
While the manufacturing sector recovered somewhat in 2010 and 2011, vending operators were quick to point out that the workers in these locations were not as willing to spend money as they were prior to 2008. Like workers in other locations, manufacturing employees were less confident about their long-term employment security. In many cases, factories that recalled workers did so at lower wages than in years past.
While 28 per cent of vending machines serve food, most of them serve candy and soda. This provides an insight into how much extra money consumers have.
Revenue declined in these segments too despite price increases across all categories.
The report also found that attempts to increase revenue by increasing candy size were unsuccessful.
The only segment where vending machine sales increased significantly is in coffee. This may be another depressing indicator, when you think about it, if it means that people are getting machine coffee rather than a $4 latte.
The industry looks to new vending technology to win back customers.
This chart is provided by Automatic Merchandiser: