Window tint sales in New York State are down as much as 80 percent at some dealers. And many shops have closed their doors since January.
The direct cause is a new law that mandates the testing of window film during regular emissions testing. It also permits only film that allows 70 percent or more light to pass through. So only near-clear film is legal and any darker film must be removed in order to pass emissions inspections.
Now, when a customer comes into a shop looking for darker film, the salesmen can only show him the clear film, at 70 percent visible light transmission (VLT) film or higher. Most other states allow up to 30 or 35 percent VLT.
NY previously allowed only 70 percent VLT film, but didn’t rigorously enforce the law until the new regulations went into effect January 1.
The unfortunate consequence is that most customers simply walk when they learn they can’t buy darker tint. Shop salesmen can explain that clear tint will still protect against UV rays, reject heat and protect the seats; but most people want the privacy or just the “cool” look of tint.
Tint World CEO Charles Bonfiglio said of its two New York franchise locations, “We’re down 80 percent. I had a dealer doing $8,000 or $9,000 last year at this time, and now it’s st $2,000. He added, “A lot of people are walking in to buy window tint and when they are shown the shades of what is legal, 8 out of 10 walk out. If window tint is your sole source of revenue, you are going to go out of business. I don’t think they [the NY State legislature] thought it through.”
Many shops going out of business or moving out of state, he claimed.
Sales are down by 50 percent at The Art of Tint, in Brooklyn, NY . “We were one of the biggest tint shops in NY,” said Owner Tom Kovach. “I’ve been here for 25 years. It’s really impacted us. We’ve downgraded our living conditions and sold cars,” he said. I know of a couple of shops that moved to a different state. A couple of guys from NY just moved to Florida where tinting is legal.”
He added, “The only legal film in New York is basically clear UV film that doesn’t show any type of tint at all.” Customers who failed inspection are coming to the shop to have the film removed, but only about 10 percent of those also buy new clear film, he said.
No one is going to make bank removing film at a rate of $20 or $25 per window.
The store is now expanding into residential and commercial window tinting to try to recoup revenue.
NY City Window Tint, Plainview, NY is down by more than half, said owner Jerry Cicio. He’s been window tinting for 30 years. He worked with 12 active car dealers in the past, and he’s now down to two since January 1.
The law was passed late in 2016 in part to protect police officers who, when approaching a car with window tint, may not be able to see into the vehicle. It completely surprised the window tint industry.
We are told that some window tint suppliers are coordinating efforts behind the scenes to fight the bill.
The International Window Film Association has failed to respond to our inquiries. Two window film companies we contacted said they have not yet seen an impact from the law or were unable to report on NY film sales, specifically.
Here is the full new window tint law for New York.
Here is a local news story on the law.