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Channel Overview in Eyewear

January 12th, 2018

Global eyewear sales pick up the pace in 2017

Global eyewear retail value sales reached USD129.8 billion in 2017, posting an increase of 1.6% in constant value terms. Despite the weak performance posted in 2016, global sales of eyewear remain buoyant. Growing consumer awareness of the importance of eye health, disposable income levels, and a growing ageing population are all factors expanding the consumer base globally. Consumer lifestyles are also playing a role, with digitalisation increasingly important and therefore time spent in front of digital devices on the rise, opening up alternative revenue streams for eyewear manufacturers. A growing number of references are positioned as offering prevention rather than enhancement.

Industry Snapshot: Asia Pacific is the global growth engine

Despite the impressive growth posted by Asia Pacific over the review period – a 7% CAGR in current value terms through retail – 31% of global eyewear retail value sales are accounted for by North America. With significantly higher disposable income per capita, North Americans spent USD111 on eyewear in 2017, almost twice the spending of their Western European counterparts, and 93% more than the average consumer in Asia Pacific. Sales in North America slightly exceeded USD40 billion in 2017, up 3% from the previous year, with spectacle lenses accounting for 40% of these sales. Western Europe, on the other hand, is gradually recovering pre-crisis consumption  levels, supporting healthy 2% retail value growth, with some references, such as sunglasses, growing at twice the pace.

Store-based retailing is as diverse as eyewear product portfolio…

The three most important store-based retailers globally are optical shops (eyewear specialists), department stores (mixed retailers) and hypermarkets (grocery retailers). This assortment of outlets perfectly showcases the nature of the eyewear portfolio, where more medical references, such as corrective lenses, coexist with other, more fashion-driven options, such as sunglasses. Over the review period both optical shops and department stores have suffered from a growing migration towards internet retailing, unable to retain customers and allured by the convenience and affordability of digital platforms, gradually less reliant on opticians’ advice when placing orders.

…with optical shops leading unambiguously

Optical shops remain the most important distribution channel worldwide, accounting for over 68% of sales. Consumers still place importance on the expertise and know-how of opticians when it comes to choosing eyewear, especially when it comes to corrective products. This remains the key competitive advantage for optical shops versus other distribution channels. Department stores follow behind as the second-largest distribution channel with some distance, accounting for 8% of global value sales in 2017.

Future Developments

Internet retailing is set to keep outgrowing the overall eyewear category as a whole to 2021, and also the performance of optical good stores. However, growth over the forecast period is set to slow down in comparison with the review period. Specifically, internet retailing is set to post a CAGR of 6% over the forecast period, two percentage points less in comparison with the review period. This weaker growth is the result of both a certain degree of digital saturation, and a growing move towards hybrid retail propositions (as opposed to digital only). Socio-demographic factors such as the ageing global population, growing rates of presbyopia, myopia and hyperopia due to consumer lifestyles, rapidly increasing disposable income levels, and awareness of the importance of eye health, will sustain growth over the period to 2022.

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Jorge Martin

Jorge Martin is Apparel and Footwear Project Manager at Euromonitor International. He has a Master's degree in Applied Social and Market Research from Westminster University and has been working in market research since 2005. Professional interests include consumer behaviour, analytics and innovation.

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