March 2014 Optical Business Barometer Shows Increase Overall, Decrease from Previous Years

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NEW YORK—According to the Jobson Optical Research Optical Business Barometer (OBB) report, the overall optical business rating among independent ECPs rose in March 2014 to a rating of 3.72 from a February rating of 3.65.

The March 2014 rating of 3.72 compares to a March 2013 rating of 3.84 and March 2012 rating of 3.90, showing a small decline in ratings for the month of March since 2012. The March 2011 rating stood at 3.87 and the March 2010 rating stood at 3.69.

The confidence rating, measuring independents' outlook for overall optical retail business for the upcoming six months, decreased in March 2014 to a 3.81 from a February confidence rating of 3.84. The March 2014 rating of 3.81 further compares to previous ratings of 3.79 in March 2013, 3.92 in March 2012, 3.84 in March 2011 and 3.73 in March 2010.

March ratings in the categories of eyeglasses, eye exams and contact lenses showed decrease in comparison to previous years. The March 2014 eyeglass rating decreased to 3.68 from 3.79 in 2013 and 3.80 in 2012; the exam rating decreased to 3.77 from 3.82 in 2013 and 3.89 in 2012; and the contact lens rating decreased to 3.55 from 3.67 in 2013 and 3.63 in 2012.

Year-to-date average ratings for eyeglasses, eye exams and contact lenses also showed decline in March 2014 compared to the same period in 2013 and 2012. Average eyeglass ratings for January through March 2014 stood 3.64 for eyeglasses, compared to 3.75 for the same period in 2013 and 3.79 in 2012. Average year-to-date ratings for exams stood at 3.75, compared to 3.77 for the same period in 2013 and 3.86 in 2012. Contact lens ratings for January through March 2014 stood at 3.58, compared to 3.61 for the same period in 2013 and 3.63 in 2012.

Regional scores depicting overall optical year-to-date average ratings by census region stood at 3.91 for the South, 3.71 for the West, 3.59 for the Midwest and 3.54 for the Northeast.

Jobson's OBB report is further compared to the Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board, which showed increase in March 2014 to a 82.3 rating from a revised 78.3 rating in February. The high point of the Consumer Confidence Index occurred in January 2000 at 144.7 and the low point in February 2009 at 25.3.

The Optical Business Barometer is a monthly study of a representative sample of independent optical retailers (single locations and groups of no more than three locations) designed to gauge the optical business trends of eyecare professionals at these locations and to provide them with a comparative "how's business" benchmark. It is conducted online by Jobson Optical Research based on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is very negative, 3 is neutral and 5 is very positive.

For more information, visit jobsonresearch.com/obb or contact Jennifer Zupnick at 212-274-7164 or jzupnick@jobson.com.