ALEXANDRIA, Va.—In a number of recent surveys, most consumers report that they are likely to return to physical brick-and-mortar optical retailers and optometry offices to try on and purchase eyewear, according to The Vision Council. Indeed, almost 70 percent of consumers indicate that they will likely return to physical eyewear retailers after COVID-19, the industry association noted.

However, nearly one-quarter of consumers indicate that they are not sure or that it is too soon to tell whether they will return to brick-and-mortar optical stores. Only 8 percent said they are unlikely to return to physical optical stores.

Consumers 35 years or older are more likely to return to physical stores than consumers 18–34 years old, with a higher percentage of older demographic age segments reporting a likelihood to return than the national average for all adults. A greater percentage of consumers with managed vision care or an optical subsidy indicate they are likely to return compared to those consumers without. And, not surprisingly, more consumers whose most recent eyewear purchase was from an independent ECP or corporate retailer indicate they are likely to return to physical stores compared with recent online eyewear shoppers.

In addition, many consumers want to see additional safety and protective measures in place at optical stores. Specifically, 41 percent of eyewear shoppers want retailers to sanitize any eyewear before they try it on at the store. Equally large numbers of consumers want retailers to limit the number of people in the store at any one time (38 percent) or to have retail employees wear PPE gear like facemasks and gloves (37 percent).

The Vision Council serves as a leading resource for comprehensive optical industry research, and conducts surveys on a regular basis to monitor consumer attitudes and behaviors.

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