Coronavirus BRIEFING
Supported by Essilor

The Retail Industry Is Facing a Potential Wave of Bankruptcies—Here’s Why

By Staff
Thursday, June 23, 2022 7:00 AM Consumers aren’t just buying less stuff, they are shopping less, which means a loss of the impulse-shopping moments that are critical to retail growth.

Money, Not COVID, Is the Biggest Travel Hurdle This Summer

By Staff
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 2:39 PM After two years of COVID-related restrictions and inhibitions, travelers are ready to hit the beaches in masses this summer—that is if they can still afford it. With everyday purchases like food, gas and utilities having become much more expensive over the past few months, many families are forced to reconsider their holiday plans, if not to scrap them altogether, according to a recent feature from Statista.com

According to an international survey conducted by Ipsos for Europ Assistance’s 2022 Holiday Barometer, money is by far the biggest hurdle for potential holiday goers this summer. About 45 percent of Americans who have no summer travel plans this year said that they couldn’t afford it, while 33 percent said they’ll refrain from traveling to save money. Meanwhile just 15 percent of U.S. non-travelers said that COVID-19 was the reason for them staying at home this summer.

The trend is similar across Europe where travel enthusiasm is generally higher this year. Just 29 percent of European respondents have no travel plans for the summer, with 41 percent of them not being able to afford it and 26 percent trying to save money.

Parents Get in Line to Vaccinate Their Babies

By Staff
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 10:46 AM Following approval from the FDA and other regulators last week, the U.S. has begun offering COVID-19 vaccines to children as young as six months. Head over to Reuters to learn more about some of the first children and babies to get vaccinated against COVID-19, what their parents have to say and what we can expect to change as more and more vaccines roll out.

The National Average for Gross Revenue at ECP Locations Decreased for the Week of June 13-19, Jobson’s Latest Practice Performance Tracker Shows

By Staff
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 12:24 AM NEW YORK—The national average for gross revenue at ECP locations decreased last week, June 13-19, at a rate of -2 index points. That places gross revenue at a level 4 index points above where it was at this point in time (Week 25) when compared with last year, 3 points above Week 25 of 2020, and 10 points above 2019, according to Jobson’s most recent Practice Performance Tracker. All optical sales categories were either flat or down last week when compared with the previous week, ranging from -3 index points for lens pairs to unchanged for frame units.

Retail Sales Slow as Inflations Fears Rise

By Staff
Monday, June 20, 2022 2:09 PM The National Retail Federation (NRF) is reporting a significant slowdown in retail sales this past May due to growing inflation fears. According to the US Census Bureau, sales in May were down by 0.3 percent from April, but remained up 8.1 percent year over year. A recent review of figures by the NRF, however, found that May sales were unchanged seasonally, but rose slightly by 6.7 percent year over year, while April sales were up 5.5 percent year over year. 

The NRF found May sales to be higher in eight out of nine categories, with building materials, stores, online sales and groceries seeing the most sales.  

“There’s been little relief from inflation, and we expected some cooling off in sales in reaction to prices, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “There have been swings across sectors that reflect the impact of both higher prices and supply chain disturbances, and higher interest rates are expected to curb spending going forward. As inflation continues, consumers are looking for ways to stretch their dollars by saving less, tapping into savings accumulated during the pandemic and increasing their use of credit.”

Stop Checking Your 401k So Much

By Staff
Thursday, June 16, 2022 12:04 AM A lot of times people are looking headlines about the stock market crashing—that’s really meant for shock value. They’re trying to get people to click on the links and they want eyeballs on the screen. That’s not intended to be advice that anybody should be acting on in their retirement accounts.

Americans Suffer Pay Cut as Inflation Outpaces Wage Growth

By Staff
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 1:47 PM Despite the Fed’s most aggressive interest rate hike since 2000, consumer prices continued to surge in May, adding to fears that inflation may be out of control. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 8.6 percent over the last 12 months before seasonal adjustment, the highest reading since December 1981. 

Low interest rates, COVID-related supply constraints and strong consumer spending partly fueled by generous stimulus checks had already put upward pressure on prices before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war’s severe impact on fuel and food prices has further fanned the flames, turning an inflation scare into a global crisis, according to a recent feature from Statista.com.  

As the chart from Statista.com shows, inflation has now been outpacing nominal wage growth for 14 months straight, meaning that Americans can afford less than they could a year ago, despite wages rising on paper. While average hourly earnings climbed 5.2 percent from $30.36 to $31.95 over the past 12 months, consumer prices soared 8.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, resulting in a 3 percent decline in real hourly earnings.

The National Average for Gross Revenue at ECP Locations Increased Substantially for the Week of June 6-12, Jobson’s Latest Practice Performance Tracker Shows

By Staff
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 12:24 AM NEW YORK—The national average for gross revenue at ECP locations increased substantially last week, June 6-12, at a rate of 22 index points, recouping and surpassing the -18 index points it declined the previous week during the Memorial Day holiday. That places gross revenue at a level 4 index points above where it was at this point in time (Week 24) when compared with last year, 6 points above Week 24 of 2020, and 11 points above 2019. With gross revenue at 104 index points by Week 24 of 2020, the impact of the pandemic appears to have diminished by that point in time, according to Jobson’s most recent Practice Performance Tracker.

Consumer Interest in Vision Benefits Is Rising, Led by Virtual Eyecare Options, Versant Study Finds

By Staff
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 12:27 AM BALTIMORE—Consumer opinions of the value of vision care as part of whole-body health are rising, according to the results of Versant Health’s newly released third annual Vision Wellness Study. The study also found that more people agree that the ability to identify both eye diseases and chronic health conditions are highly valuable services offered by eye doctors. Additionally, Versant found that the use of virtual eyecare options—including telemedicine, tech-enabled communication, and online eyewear shopping—have both increased year-over year and influence consumer's insurance benefits decisions.

Stagflation Is on the Rise Amid a Global Economic Slowdown

By Staff
Monday, June 13, 2022 1:41 PM WASHINGTON—The World Bank is warning of the impact of stagflation in its latest Global Economic Prospects Report, which noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded the effects of the global economic slowdown. As a result, the risk of stagflation has increased particularly among middle to low income economies. 

The report noted that growth in advanced economies is projected to fall from 5.1 percent in 2021 to 2.6 percent in 2022. Growth is expected to further moderate to 2.2 percent in 2023, largely due to the end of fiscal and monetary policy support provided during the pandemic.

The report said current economic trends mirror those of the 1970s, particularly in the areas of persistent supply-side disturbances fueling inflation, preceded by a protracted period of highly accommodative monetary policy in major advanced economies, prospects for weakening growth, and vulnerabilities in emerging markets and developing economies. 

One key difference between the 1970s and today is the strong dollar and the smaller increase in commodity prices. It noted that financial institutions are also in a strong position and there has been a stronger focus on price stability over the past 30 years.

Travel and COVID Testing

By Staff
Friday, June 10, 2022 10:56 AM The Biden administration has lifted the requirement that international air travelers coming to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test at least one day before boarding their flights. Head over to HuffPost for more on this change, including what it means for travel and COVID containment. 

ECP Staffing Has Become More Difficult Than Before COVID-19, Says Large Majority

By Staff
Thursday, June 9, 2022 1:39 PM In a recent Pop-up Poll conducted by Women In Optometry and Vision Monday, 86 percent of respondents said that staffing is more difficult now than it was prior to COVID-19. Just more than 11 percent said the challenge of finding great staff is about the same, and 2 percent said it has become easier.

The demand for staff is being felt by most respondents, with only 9 percent reporting that they currently have no job openings in their businesses. The plurality, 43 percent, said that they have two-to-three positions open for full-time employees right now. Another 34 percent said they have one full-time slot open, and 6 percent each said that they are currently looking to fill four-to-five full-time positions and more than six positions.

Positions are available across the board, with the largest demand for opticians, reception staff and ophthalmic techs, followed by ODs.

By far, the top choice for recruiting by most people was a general job-posting site, like Indeed, Monster or Zip Recruiter, with 84 percent of respondents saying this was a top choice. Respondents could select more than one option. The next most popular choice for recruiting is asking current employees for recommendations (46 percent). Social media sites like Facebook (23 percent) and LinkedIn (18 percent) were also popular.

Click here to read the full story from Women In Optometry.

Employees Are Split on a Return to Work Model

By Staff
Wednesday, June 8, 2022 11:42 AM The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a new era of doing business. As workplaces tried to avoid spreading the virus, employees were sent home to work remotely. The success of this new work model brought with it an improvement in work-life balance, something employees are reluctant to give up despite business returning to normal. 

According to a recent survey from CNBC, 65 percent of workers have returned to the in-office model while 14 percent are working mostly in person. Another 9 percent are working mostly remotely, while 11 percent are working entirely remotely. 

Despite being allowed to work fully remotely, some workers are not finding the job satisfaction they expected with 68 percent of in-person workers finding satisfaction in their job, while only 60 percent of remote and most workers found satisfaction in their job. 

Working from home has also appeared to change the mindset of employees who are putting their autonomy and self-happiness ahead of their employers. According to the survey, only 14 percent of workers said, “having control over how you do your job” was the most important factor in happiness at work, while 27 percent of those who worked from home felt this was a deciding factor in workplace happiness. 

Approximately 52 percent of in-person workers feel they have better career opportunities than those who work from home. Overall, the survey found that workers do better when given the chance to decide what works best for them, whether it be work-life balance or climbing the corporate ladder, and that employers who address these concerns benefit in the long run.

FDA Panel Strongly Backs Protein-Based Novavax COVID Vaccine

By Staff
Wednesday, June 8, 2022 7:58 AM A federal advisory panel strongly supported a bid for Novavax to win U.S. emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.

'Alarming' New Data on Disordered Sleep After COVID

By Staff
Wednesday, June 8, 2022 7:53 AM Moderate to severe sleep disturbances and severe fatigue affect up to 40 percent of patients with long COVID, or post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). Such disturbances are especially common among Black people, new research shows.