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Optical Markets Continue to Grow Third Quarter 2016

During the 12 month period ending in September 2016, the vision care industry in the United States generated $40.25 billion in revenue at the retail level. When compared to sales revenue from the previous year, the market improved by 2.2%.

During the September 2015 to September 2016 time period the strongest optical markets were contact lens sales (+4.8% to $4.80 billion) and Rx lenses (+2.7% to $12.85 billion). Plano sunglass sales have also seen moderate sales growth with 2.6% dollar revenue growth, over the year. This is due to a balanced mix of increasing unit sales and rising prices. All other markets are currently growing at a moderate rate over the past couple years, with the exception of LASIK surgery. Eyeglasses accounted for the largest share of the vision correction market (56.0%) representing $22.55 billion, growing by 9.9% over the past 2 years with most of that growth occurring during the 12 month ending period September 2015. During the most recent year, eyeglass frame and lens revenue were up by 1.5% and 2.7%, respectively, from year-ago levels thanks to rising unit sales and rising prices.

The independent side of the optical industry is by far the largest component of the U.S. vision care industry—generating $18.31 billion in revenues during the 12 month ending period September 2016. During the past year, the independent outlets have seen a moderate increase in aggregate revenue (approximately $499 million—2.8% growth in sales) with Rx lens, contact lens and over-the-counter reading glasses revenue increasing the most over the past year. Examinations are a large contributing factor to the success of independents, grossing nearly $4.19 billion in revenue. In addition to increasing the number of exams performed in aggregate as a group, there are other reasons why independent EPCs are succeeding in the face of a challenging optical retail environment. The increase of managed vision care benefits by consumers at independent locations and the increased utilization and reliance on IPAs and buying groups are just a few. ECP membership in optical buying groups (or independent practice alliances) have grown to an all-time high and grant independent ECPs access to resources, training and pricing that was not previously available to them on their own.

While independents enjoyed their fifth straight year of dollar revenue growth during the 12 month ending period September 2016, other optical distribution channels also experienced growth recently. For conventional retail chains, sales revenue grew by 2.0% to $8.32 billion during the 12 month ending period September 2016. Additionally, optical sales revenues for mass merchants and wholesale clubs grew by 2.4% to $4.90 billion during the 12 month ending period September 2016.

During the 12 month ending period September 2016, sales of optical “products” (eyeglasses, readers, sunglasses and contact lenses) generated $32.39 billion in sales at the retail level through all outlets and channels

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 Alexis White at 703-740-2251.

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