Independent ECPs’ Confidence Ebbs in April, According to Jobson’s OBB

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NEW YORK—The outlook of independent ECPs’ toward business decreased slightly for April 2011 when compared to March’s record high outlook, according to the latest edition of Jobson Optical Research’s Optical Business Barometer (OBB). Regardless, the report indicates that business is progressing better so far in 2011 than for the same period in 2010.

The OBB is a monthly survey 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 independent optical locations. Conducted online by Jobson Optical Research, the OBB is designed to measure attitudes of independent eyecare professionals about the current business climate and outlook. The OBB is based on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is “very negative”, 3 is “neutral” and 5 is “very positive.”

While respondents’ attitudes toward business in March had grown to 3.9, this month’s 3.6 score is even with the rating of April 2010 and that of February 2011. In fact, a score of 3.6 is the most common for the OBB so far this year. The report stated that for two of the four year-to-date months in 2011, the overall business rating has exceeded the 2010 rating for the same calendar month.

Having fallen steadily since August 2010’s previous high point, the barometer rose 0.3 points in December 2010 (still the largest jump all year) to match the initial score in January 2010 of 3.6. The March 2011 score was the highest since the OBB began tracking in January 2010 at 3.9. The January and February 2011 scores were also set at an Index of 3.6. Comparatively, November’s score was 3.3.

Where this March saw raised scores in the overall optical business rating as well as in the outlook of future business ratings, all four U.S. Census regions had scores decline for April. When compared to 2010, “primarily the Northeast Census region lagged most,” according to the OBB. Similarly, in the ratings for eyeglasses, contact lenses and eye exams, all of these saw the current month’s ratings decrease from those of March 2011’s high point though they were generally level with those of April 2010.

Similarly, the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB), Index of Small Business Optimism for April also decreased to 91.2, down 0.7 points from March.

The findings of the OBB are compared to those in the Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board. For April, the index increased to 65.4, up 1.6 points from a revised 63.8 for March.

For more information, or to learn more about the complete report, contact Jennifer Zupnick jzupnick@jobson.com at (212) 274-7164.