Top Optical 50 Retailers’ Sales Hold Strong in 2008

VM’s exclusive look at how the largest optical chains did in a tough economy

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NEW YORK—The ongoing global recession certainly impacted the nation’s 50 largest eyewear/eyecare retailers last year, yet the aggregate optical sales of these key industry players again topped the $7 billion mark in 2008. Taken as a group, these high-volume chains achieved combined revenues of an estimated $7,163.7 million last year, according to VM’s exclusive Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers ranking.

That strong 2008 sales performance helped these retail players’ combined share of the overall U.S. vision-care business edge up to 27.7 percent of the $25,832.1 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.

By comparison, in 2007 the Top 50 Optical Retailers’ sales represented 27.3 percent of that year’s $25,759 million U.S. vision care market.

The estimated combined sales of this year’s Top 50 are nearly $122 million higher than the aggregate volume of the chains in the VM Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers listing published in May 2008, which showed an estimated $7,042.2 million in combined revenues for the industry’s 50 largest players for calendar 2007. (It’s important to note that the VM Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers list published in this issue that reports 2007 sales and store counts is not directly comparable to the Top 50 list published last year, since the 50 retailers included in the Top 50 vary from year to year due to industry consolidation and other factors.)

This latest VM Top 50 list also reflects a growth in combined store count for these key eyewear/eyecare players, who operated an estimated 9,660 units as of Dec. 31, 2008. That’s up from the estimated 9,304 units published on last year’s VM Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers list for calendar 2007.

Along with the Top 50 retailers’ slightly larger share in calendar 2008 of the total U.S. market for vision-care products and services sold at optical retail locations, the 10 largest optical retailers on VM’s latest list have continued to gain market share both among the Top 50 and in the total eyewear/eyecare market.

On this year’s VM Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers list, the Top 10 retailers have an estimated combined volume of $6,177.7 million, representing 86.2 percent of the Top 50 retailers’ overall sales. That Top 10 share for 2008 is up from the Top 10 optical retailers’ 85.9 percent share of the VM Top 50’s combined volume in calendar 2007.

In the overall U.S. optical marketplace, last year those Top 10 optical retailers generated 23.9 percent of the $25.8 billion U.S. market for vision-care products and services sold at optical retail locations, up slightly from the Top 10’s 23.5 percent share of the total market in 2007.

And perhaps as a sign of stability in the optical marketplace, this year’s VM Top 50 Optical Retailer list is headed by the same 10 companies, in the same order, that comprised the Top 10 for 2007, with Luxottica Retail once again leading the list, for the 10th consecutive year. ■
-CATHY CICCOLELLA