By Delia Paunescu
Assistant Editor

NEW YORK—Keeping with January’s improvement in business attitude among eyecare independents, the latest Optical Business Barometer (OBB) from Jobson Research shows that the February 2012 rating increased once again, to reach 3.9. In January 2012, the outlook of independents toward their overall business remained steady with December 2011 at 3.8.

“The February 2012 rating of 3.9 is highest since the inception of the OBB (January 2010). A rating this high has occurred one other time and that was in March 2011,” the report said, adding, “With the February 2012 rating the new year appears to continue a stronger start than either 2010 or 2011 and continues a strong showing that began in November of 2011.”

Similarly, same-month ratings for February 2011 and February 2010 were 3.6 and 2.5, respectively, according to the latest edition of the OBB.

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.”

Reflecting the optimism, eyeglasses, contact lenses and eye exam ratings for February all rose over January, the report showed, while all regional ratings also improved over the previous month. The South region, which had its strongest reading last month, again broke the record to reach a rating of 4.1, the highest regional rating recorded since the inception of the OBB.

According to the Barometer, future overall optical (the anticipated development of business by respondents for the upcoming six months) stood at 3.9 for February 2012, compared to 3.7 for February of both 2010 and 2011. This is again an increase over the previous month. The January 2012 reading was at 3.8.

The findings of the OBB are compared to those in the Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board. For February, the index rose 9.3 points to 70.8 from a revised score of 61.5 in January.

“This February increase follows a small decrease in January. The Consumer Confidence Index stood at 40.5 in October 2011 and with the exception of January 2012, has steadily increased since,” the OBB said.

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