Recession to Recovery: Comparing 2007 With 2013 Eyecare and Eyewear Trends

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NEW YORK—Comparing pre-Great Recession eyewear and eyecare trends with those from last year shows that the U.S. vision care industry is back on the upswing, according to a statistical top-line analysis based on the estimates from The Vision Council's VisionWatch survey, the large-scale study of consumer eyecare and eyewear behavior, which was presented by Marge Axelrad, senior vice president/editorial director of Vision Monday, at the Alcon-sponsored Corporate Optometry Reports Meeting held last Thursday at the Park Central Hotel during Vision Expo East in Manhattan.

Total U.S. vision care industry sales of $35.6 billion in 2013 increased 4.6 percent when compared with the vision care industry sales of $34.3 billion for 2007, the year before the financial crash of 2008. However, the overall average spend per vision correction user decreased from $201.16 in 2007 to $195.99 in 2013.

Other statistics between 2007 and 2013:

  • The number of exams at independents increased by 8.0 million or 12.4 percent.
  • The number of exams at chains (all non-independents) increased by 0.3 million or 0.9 percent
  • Frame units purchased with managed vision care participation increased by 7.6 million or 22 percent, and frame units purchased without managed vision care participation decreased by 6.1 million or -18 percent.
  • The total number of eye exams continually trended upward through the recession.

At 69.1 million in 2011, frame unit purchases first surpassed the 68.2 million frame unit purchases in 2007. The projected final tally for frame unit purchases in 2013 is expected to be about 69.9 million.

Overall, the average retail price for frames has not yet recovered to the 2007 level. Only independents showed an increase in the average frame retail price between 2007 and 2013, while all other channels showed significant decreases.

The trend of prescription lens pair sales is moving upward somewhat faster than frames. Progressive and single vision lenses are trending upward while fixed multifocals are trending downward. Anti-reflective and photochromic lenses are trending upward slightly more than all lenses.

The average retail price for eyeglasses in 2007 was $260.69 (frames $128.80 + lenses $131.89).

The average retail price for eyeglasses in 2013 was $268.06 (frames $126.61 + lenses $141.45).

 

More information about VisionWatch is available from The Vision Council and from Steve Kodey, director of research at skodey@thevisioncouncil.org.