BUSINESS: Research + Stats March Optical Business Barometer Reflects Return to Higher Ratings Among Independents By Staff Friday, April 19, 2013 12:00 PM NEW YORK—The Optical Business Barometer (OBB), a monthly gauge of general business attitudes among independent ECPs as surveyed by Jobson Research, rose to a 3.8 in March. The increase reflects a return to positive attitudes toward business among independent eyecare professionals. The 3.8 rating rose from a 3.7 in February, but is lower than March 2012 rating of 3.9. March 2011 and 2012 stood at 3.9 and 3.7, respectively. The average overall optical rating for the period January through March 2013 stood at 3.8, equal to rating from the same period 2012, and greater than the rating for the same period in 2011 and 2010, which stood at 3.6. The confidence rating for the upcoming six months increased from a 3.7 in February to a 3.8 in March, as compared to a 3.9 rating in March 2012 and a 3.8 rating in March 2011. ECP business ratings rose from February to March 2013 in the areas of eyeglasses, exams and contact lenses. Both eyeglass and exam ratings increased from a 3.7 to a 3.8, and contact lens ratings increased from a 3.5 to a 3.7. Average scores for the period of January through March 2013 stood at 3.8 for eyeglasses (as compared to a 3.8 in 2012 and 3.6 in 2011 and 2010); 3.6 for contact lenses (as compared to 3.6 in 2012 and 3.5 in 2011 and 2010); and 3.8 for exams (as compared to a 3.9 in 2012 and 3.7 in 2011). The overall optical rating for the period January through March 2013 stood at a 3.8 in the Northeast Census region, at 4.0 for the South Census region and at 3.7 for both the Midwest and West Census regions. OBB ratings are further compared to findings from the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey . The latest survey findings revealed a decrease from a revised 68.0 index in February 2013 to a 59.7 index in March 2013. The Consumer Confidence Index reached its highest point in January 2000 with a rating of 144.7 and its lowest point in February 2009 with a rating of 25.3. The OBB is a monthly survey designed to gauge the optical business by studying a representative sample of independent optical retailers (single locations or groups of no more than three locations) and measuring the trends of eyecare professionals at these locations. 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." Click to Enlarge For a full report complete with charted progress, visit www.jobsonresearch.com/obb.