Top 50 Optical Retailers Battle Recession’s Impact in 2009

VM’s exclusive look at how sales fared for the largest optical players


By Cathy Ciccolella: Senior Contributing Editor

NEW YORK—Although the U.S. economy continued to lag throughout 2009, the nation’s 50 largest eyewear/eyecare retailers managed to produce aggregate optical sales approaching a record $7.3 billion last year. As a group, these high-volume retail players achieved combined revenues estimated at $7,288.8 million in calendar 2009, according to VM’s exclusive Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers listing.

That strong sales performance during 2009, despite the recession, brought these retailers’ combined share of the overall U.S. vision-care business to 28.7 percent of last year’s $25,389 million total U.S. market for vision-care products and services sold at optical retail locations, as estimated by VisionWatch, a joint venture of Jobson Optical Group and The Vision Council.

These key eyewear/eyecare players operated an estimated 9,798 retail units as of Dec. 31, 2009, reflecting continuing growth for most of the largest players on the VM Top 50 list: seven of the 10 largest retailers on this year’s list show an increase in store count over their 2008 unit count.

Also on this year’s VM Top 50 list, the Top 10 retailers have an estimated combined volume of $6,379.3 million, representing 87.5 percent of the Top 50 retailers’ overall sales.