ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Vision Council released last week its quarterly VisionWatch market research reports for Q3 of 2020. The reports indicated a net increase of 1.2 million vision correction users year over year from September 2019 to September 2020, and $37.46 billion in retail revenues during the same period. The report is designed exclusively for the optical industry and surveys trends in consumer behavior regarding eye exams and eyewear, analyzes developments in the U.S. eyecare market, and provides key market and product category statistics.

Steve Kodey, senior director of industry research at The Vision Council, said, “As 2020 comes to a close, the results of the Q3 reports reflect the many challenges faced by the vision care market this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vision care market generated $37.46 billion in retail revenues, representing a steep decline of 14.2 percent compared to the previous year. We are seeing some positive growth, however. After experiencing quarterly declines in frame unit sales earlier this year, for example, frame unit sales increased by 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the third quarter of 2019. This increase seems to reflect a change in consumer behavior as consumers were able to follow through with purchases that were postponed during the first and second quarter.”

Based on the results of the Q3 reports, The Vision Council estimates that independent eyecare providers, which represent the largest segment of the vision care community, have experienced a 13.2 percent decline in sales since September 2019. Despite this decrease, the number of consumers making purchases after receiving an eye exam at an independent eyecare provider has increased by 5 percent since March 2020, The Vision Council reports.

The Vision Council also examined online sales trends in the industry. During the 12-month period ending September 2020, The Vision Council reports that about 12.9 percent of all eyeglass Rx lens and frame unit purchases occurred online, which equates to 8.57 million pairs of eyeglasses. In addition, roughly 8.3 million pairs of plano sunglasses were sold over the internet during the 12-month ending, which represents 10.4 percent of all plano sunglass sold during that period of time.

The report also shows that the contact lens market was the only major optical market to experience revenue growth during the 12-month period ending September 2020, with sales up 1.1 percent to $4.42 billion, even after experiencing a slight decline in the overall number of users during the same 12-month period.

Finally, The Vision Council also gauges the overall level of Managed Vision Care (MVC) coverage among the U.S. adult population to better understand the evolving MVC landscape. This year, findings indicated that the number of adults with MVC coverage dropped by about 3.7 percent since September 2019, which is a net loss of roughly 4.8 million adult covered lives. In addition, the strongest usage/utilization of MVC benefits to buy eyewear over the past year occurred among women, adults under 55 years of age, adults with higher annual household incomes (over $60,000 per year), and people from the Western region of the country.

Kodey will present a Q3 analysis and future outlook presentation at The Vision Council’s upcoming 2021 Executive Summit, taking place in a virtual format from Jan. 26-28. Registration is open online.

The Q3 VisionWatch 2020 Market Research Reports are available for download at The Vision Council’s Research Download Center.