Reopenings Increase Eyewear-Related Purchases, ECP Coronavirus Study Shows

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NEW YORK—ECPs who have reopened their practices report they are seeing fewer patients per day, as they expected, due to social distancing and safety concerned but there are more eyewear-related purchases happening during the week of May 22-26—the latest period surveyed by Jobson Optical Research in the 10th wave of the ECP Coronavirus Survey. The rate of eyecare practice and optical location reopenings increased during the month of May as state and local county guidelines permitted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Of those surveyed, 81 percent of the respondents said their locations were open for that week, an increase from the prior May 8-12 survey period when 64 percent said they were open. Along with the higher percentage of openings, a high percentage, 69 percent, of respondents who are a mix of optometrists and opticians, said they were rescheduling appointments for June and a small percentage,12 percent, said they were rescheduling appointments into July. Forty-three percent of respondents said that patients were eager to reschedule, while 52 percent said patients were willing to reschedule if they were comfortable with safety precautions put into place. Click here to see the full results of the survey.

In the May 22-26 Jobson survey, 52 percent of respondents said they already had hired back staff that had been laid off, while another 16 percent said they planned to do so. Of those who planned to, 68 percent said they intended to bring them all back, while 20 percent said they were likely to bring back three-quarters of the staff laid off, another 7 percent said they would be able to bring back half and another 6 percent anticipated being able to bring back one quarter of staff laid off .

Telehealth participation and interest remained high, as compared to prior survey waves. Some 38 percent, the highest proportion among all the prior Jobson survey waves, said they are already offering some form of telehealth services, while another 25 percent say they are considering offering telehealth services/options. For practices that actually reopened May 8-12 and May 22-26, the intention to continue telehealth options remained high at 90 percent, the survey indicated.

In terms of the number of patients seen per day, the responses have varied slightly in the last several weeks of the survey, with respondents saying that they saw—before the coronavirus pandemic—about 24 to 28 patients per day and these practices anticipated seeing 11 to 12 patients per day once they opened. For those that did open, the survey reflected that practices were seeing an average of 14.4 patients per day and that some 53 percent of those patients were making a purchase during that visit. Concurrently, respondents in the 10th wave, who have reopened, estimated that their revenues were approximately 51 percent of the revenues they collected in an average week prior to the pandemic.