Optical Business Barometer Shows Slight Rise in ECP Ratings for August 2013

NEW YORK—The latest Optical Business Barometer (OBB), rating independent ECPs' attitudes toward current and future optical business as sourced from Jobson Optical Research, has risen to a 3.72 for August 2013. This compares to a July rating of 3.63, showing increase since that time. Year over year, the rating compares to the same rating of 3.72 in August 2012, 3.68 in August 2011 and a 3.67 in August 2010, showing steady increase for this month-long period over time.

The average of the overall optical ratings for the period of January through August 2013 stood at 3.71, showing slight decrease as compared to the 3.74 rating for the same period in 2012. The average for this period stood at 3.63 in 2011 and 3.56 in 2010.

The August 2013 confidence rating, measuring ECPs' outlook for overall optical retail business in the upcoming six months, stood at 3.72, remaining steady with the July rating. The confidence rating is slightly improved compared to the August 2012 rating of 3.69, the August 2011 rating of 3.62 and the  August 2010 rating of 3.53, showing steady increase over the last three years.

Ratings for eyeglasses, exams and contact lenses all increased for August 2013, reflecting independent ECPs' attitudes for those product segments, as the rating for eyeglasses increased to a 3.68 from a 3.63 rating in July, the rating for exams increased to a 3.76 from a 3.74 rating in July and the rating for contact lenses increased to a 3.59 from a 3.56 rating in July.

The average ratings in these categories for the period January through August 2013 varied. Eyeglasses remained steady with an average rating of 3.68, unchanged from the same period in 2012. Contact lenses decreased slightly, showing an average rating of 3.57 as compared to a 3.59 in the period for 2012. Exams also decreased slightly, averaging at 3.73 as compared to 3.75 in the period 2012.

However, all three categories showed increase from their ratings for the same period in 2011 and 2010: Eyeglasses stood at an average rating of 3.57 for the period in 2011 and 3.49 for the period in 2010; contact lenses stood at 3.51 for the period in 2011 and 3.46 in the period in 2010; and exams stood at 3.65 for the period in 2011 and 3.55 for the period in 2010.

The overall optical rating among independents by U.S. Census region for the period January through August 2013 stood at 3.74 for the Northeast, 3.86 for the South, 3.66 for the Midwest and 3.62 for the West.

 According to findings from the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Survey, consumer confidence also increased for August 2013, with the latest Consumer Confidence Index revealing an increase to an 81.5 rating in August from a revised 81.0 in July. The Consumer Confidence Index reached its highest point in January 2000 with a rating of 144.7 and its lowest point in February 2009 at 25.3.

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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 and is 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.