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Optical Markets Continue to Grow First Quarter 2015

Optical Markets Continue to Grow First Quarter 2015

The Vision Care Industry in the US Generates Billions

During the 12 month period ending in March 2015 the vision care industry in the United States generated $38.27 billion in revenue at the retail level. When compared to sales revenue from the previous year, the market improved by 5.3 percent (representing an aggregate increase under $2 billion at the retail level).

During the 12 month period ending in March 2015 the vision care industry in the United States generated $38.27 billion in revenue at the retail level. When compared to sales revenue from the previous year, the market improved by 5.3 percent (representing an aggregate increase under $2 billion at the retail level). The rise in first quarter 2015 optical sales is higher than first quarter 2014 sales, which may indicate that the recent changes in healthcare reform increased the growth of the optical industry.

A continued escalation in the number of Americans using different forms of vision correction is certainly helping the situation. The total number of American adults using some form of vision correction was 185.7 million during the 12 month ending period March 2015 (an increase of 2.6 million people from March 2014). There were 157.3 million Rx eyeglass wearers in the US during this same period of time along with 211.7 million plano sunglass wearers and 39.5 million contact lens wearers. Over the past year the number of adults using all types of vision correction increased, with the largest increases occurring among readers and plano sunglass wearers.

While most sectors of the vision care market were gaining ground during this period, some sectors managed to outperform other sectors with regard to sales. During the 12 month period ending in March 2015, the strongest retail growth markets were lenses (+6.8 percent to $12.0 billion), contact lenses (+5.5 percent to $4.46 billion), and eye exams (+5.9 percent to $5.79 billion).

The markets that experienced the lowest increases in retail sales revenue during the 12 month ending period March 2015 were refractive surgery (+1.2 percent to $1.94 billion), and OTC readers (+2.2 percent to $832 million).

The resurging optical market in the US was fueled by growth in several key segments of the lens market during the 12 month period ending in March 2015. In the lens market, sales of single vision lenses, PALs, and AR coated lenses increased more than other lens types, thanks to increased purchasing activity among eyeglass wearers over the age of 55 and wearers from higher income homes.

During the 12 month period ending in March 2015, lens retail dollars sales increased across all sales channels (+6.8 percent). Independents did the best job of increasing lens dollar sales by 9.3 percent over the previous year while optical centers in department stores increased lens dollar sales the least (+2.8 percent) over the course of the 12ME period March 2015. On the other hand, lens units have increased only slightly when compared to dollar sales increases. This is due to the continued evolution of the consumer lens market to higher-quality lens technology (i.e. growing free-form PAL sales, growing Rx sun lens sales, increasing AR sales, increasing high-index lens sales) that increases average Rx lens prices and increases dollar revenue totals for Rx lens sales faster than they would normally rise had the evolution to higher-end lenses not occurred.

In the eyeglass frame market, sales were up in total, by +3.4 percent with 72.4 million pairs purchased in the 12 months ending in March 2015. Frame sales grew the most among men and consumers over the age of 55 (with frame unit sales increasing by 4.1 percent among consumers over the age of 55 during the 12ME Period March 2015), and Americans with household incomes over $60,000 (unit sales up +5.4 percent). In terms of distribution channels, independents saw unit frames sales increase by 4.9 percent during the past year and increasing the number of pairs sold by 2.3M to 32.8 million pairs.

The plano sunglass market, which had been one of the optical markets hit hardest during the US economic recession, saw a significant increase in sales in the 12 months ending in March 2015. There were 101.3 million pairs of plano sunglasses sold in the United States, valued at $3.93 billion (+2.4 percent in unit growth and +4.1 percent in dollar value versus the previous year). As we first observed when the economic recovery started, most of the recent increase in plano sunglass sales can be traced to rising sales of plano sunglasses priced at more than $50 per pair. In terms of demographics, sales of plano sunglasses have increased the most among men, Americans over the 55 and Americans from higher income households (over $60K per year).

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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