Consolidation Impacted 2019's Top 50 Ranking in Mid to Upper Tiers and Growth of Value Sector as Period of Retail Reset Begins

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NEW YORK—The year 2019 seems like a very distant memory right now, but in hindsight it was a fairly strong year for most optical retailers. In the U.S., the optical market rose to about $37.5 billion, according to The Vision Council’s VisionWatch tracking reports, and sales grew at a nice pace compared with the prior year. Retailers, who are in the midst of a "retail reset," will be hard-pressed to match 2019’s results this year, given the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, consolidation and the continuing interest in eyecare by private equity groups, which have acquired both independent and regional retail/practice groups, continued to reshape the U.S. optical industry last year. Nonetheless, or perhaps as a sign that the large optical firms are getting larger, the positioning of companies within the 2019 Vision Monday Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailer’s Report, remained almost unchanged from a year ago. The new Top 50 report is being issued today, and it exclusively assesses rankings based on 2019 calendar year sales.

This year's report also includes a special section in which many of the retail industry's leaders comment on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The top of the ranking once again is highlighted by Vision Source and Luxottica Retail, which ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, for the fourth consecutive year.

In addition, VM’s ranking of the U.S.’s Top 50 Retailers reflects a new collective revenue record of almost $15.7 billion, based on estimated 2019 calendar sales. And, like the year it was the high concentration of sales among the Top 10 retailers that was noteworthy.

The collective estimated revenue of the Top 10 reached $13.4 billion, or 35.7 percent of the total vision care market. Among all the Top 50 retailers, consolidators acquired sizeable groups and investors came into the market acquiring groups that had already achieved a certain size.

Overall, in 2019 business was solid, for companies large and small. What changed the character of the optical retail landscape among the small and mid-sized regional operators was the still-strong fuel of private equity investment into the U.S. market, reshaping competition and creating organizations that could grow and scale.

A look at the complete ranking of the 50 leading optical retailers in the U.S., Snapshots of the Top 10, a focused look at mass merchants and wholesale clubs’ optical business, along with other industry statistics is posted in the full report.

The report is accessible here

The report appears within the digital and print May editions of Vision Monday as well as on Vision Monday’s website today. PDFs of this year’s report along with prior year’s Top 50 reports also are posted on the site.