By Delia Paunescu
Assistant Editor

NEW YORK— Continuing the more optimistic attitude toward business among independent ECPs captured at the end of 2011, in January 2012, the outlook of independents toward their overall business remained steady with what it had been last December. Both months reflected an index reading of 3.8, according to the latest edition of Jobson Optical Research’s Optical Business Barometer (OBB).

In December, the index saw a significant improvement when the Barometer rose 0.3 from November’s index of 3.5. The January 2012 and December 2011 ratings for overall optical business are the highest since March of 2011 and higher than any month in 2010.

“With the January 2012 rating, the new year appears to be off to a stronger start than either 2010 or 2009 and continues a strong showing that began in November of 2011,” the report said.

In contrast, the index rating for January both in 2010 and 2011 was 3.6. According to the OBB, the highest rating achieved in any 2010 month for overall optical business was 3.7.

A monthly survey of a representative sample of independent optical retailers (single locations and groups of no more than three locations), the OBB is 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.”

Specifically, eyeglasses, contact lenses and eye exam ratings for January maintained the high levels set in December 2011, the report showed.

Additionally, the South Census Region had the strongest showing in January of 2012, increasing from 3.6 in December 2011 to 3.9 in January 2012.

According to the Barometer, future overall optical (the anticipated development of business by respondents for the upcoming six months) stood at 3.8 for January 2012, compared to 3.7 for January of both 2011 and 2010.

The findings of the OBB are compared to those in the Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board. For January the index dropped 3.7 points to 61.1 from a revised score of 64.8 in December.

“This decrease followed strong increases in November and December The Consumer Confidence Index stood at 40.5 in October,” the OBB said.

For more detailed information featured in the complete report, contact Jennifer Zupnick of Jobson Optical Research at (212) 274-7164.