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2015 Midyear Optical Markets Update

Midyear Optical Markets Update

The optical industry continues to make steady growth through the first six months of 2015, bringing in $38.87 billion in revenue for the 12 month period ending in June 2015. This nearly $39 billion represents a growth of 6.1% when compared to the same period last year. A year ago, we saw a 3.3% increase over dollars spent for the 12 month period ending in June 2013 – indicating the sales revenue growth is rising and healthy for the industry. This 6.1% growth represents an increase across most optical sectors including frames, lenses, contact lenses, sunglasses, readers, and exams. This increase in dollar sales is a combined result of U.S adults’ willingness to spend more on optical products and for higher-quality eyewear, and more U.S adults using vision correction.

Ophthalmic lenses grew by 8.5% in terms of dollars when compared to last year. While units sold grew by 4.6% to 82.1 million pairs. The majority of the dollar growth came from consumers buying more expensive lenses. On average, consumers spent $149.75 for a pair of lenses when compared to last year when they spent approximately $144.44. Ophthalmic frames also saw a modest growth compared to last year – with a 5.7% increase in dollars spent and a 4.3% increase in units purchased. We are also seeing the gap shrink between consumers opting to purchase a complete pair of eyeglasses versus purchasing only a pair of lenses. Around 90% of consumers purchasing lenses also purchased frames during this period, whereas when the economy was weaker in 2008 we were seeing only around 87% of lens purchasers also purchase frames, the remaining 13% were purchasing only lenses in an attempt to save money.

We have also seen a significant increase in dollars spent on contact lenses. During the 12 month period ending in June 2015, adult consumers in the US spent approximately $4.5 billion on contact lenses. This represents a 9.7% increase when compared to 2013. Approximately 39.2% of this $4.5 billion was purchased through an independent optical location, which continues to be the most common place of purchase for contact lenses. Part of the reason for the increase of contact lenses can be attributed to rising retail prices rather than increasing numbers of users.

Dollars spent on surgery and exams also grew during the 12 month period ending in June 2015. Refractive surgery – which actually declined by 2.2% between June 2010 and June 2011 – actually grew by 4.8% between June 2014 and June 2015. Exams saw a growth of 3.3% for the 12 month period ending June 2015. This is higher than the growth in June 2014 which was about 2.6%. Dollars spent on exams has gone up slightly because we’ve seen only a slight increase in retail prices for eye exams over the past year. For the 12 month period ending in June 2014 we saw 44.7% of U.S adults getting an eye exam, for the same period in 2015 the number rose slightly to 45.7%. The majority of exams (68.9%) continued to take place at independent locations with around 31% of exams taking place at chain locations.

Plano sunglasses and OTC readers also saw some growth during this mid-year period. Plano sunglass sales grew by 5.4% to $4 billion in sales at the retail level. OTC readers saw a slightly smaller growth of 4.5%, representing $856.3 million in sales. Readers actually saw a larger increase in terms of units than dollars. For the 12 month period ending in June 2015 readers unit sales grew by 4.7% to 50.8 million pairs. Subsequently, this caused a decrease in the price per pair by 0.1% to $16.86. Units sold of sunglasses also saw an increase of about 3.0% with an average sales price of $39.08.

Data in this article was compiled from VisionWatch, the large scale continuous research study conducted by The Vision Council. VisionWatch contains useful industry data on lenses, frames, sunglasses, reading glasses, LASIK, contact lenses and eye exams. For additional information, please contact Brin Miller at 703-740-2251.

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