NEW YORK—While the general merchandise consumer retail store market, across many product categories, felt the competitive punch of online sales in 2017, the optical category dollars spent at vision departments within mass merchants and wholesale clubs essentially held their own, generating a collective estimated 1.3 percent increase. That’s a less robust performance for this group than in prior years, however.

Overall optical retail sales among seven businesses ranked by VM generated an estimated $3,416.5 million in 2017, compared to an estimated $3,371.5 million in revenues the prior year. Those mass merchants and clubs’ optical departments sales were generated from an estimated 5,086 locations, actually 55 fewer than the 5,141 locations in this group in 2016. The group represents approximately 9.8 percent of the total U.S. optical retail market sales (compared to 9.7 percent in 2016). The number of vision departments within Walmart Inc.’s own Walmart locations were down by 100 fewer optical locations in 2017 than in 2016. National Vision’s unit count for vision centers in select Walmart locations remained stable in 2017. Combining those with Wal-Mart Stores’ Sam’s Clubs with optical departments, would put Walmart group’s overall total vision care revenues at an estimated $1,846 million in 2017.

Costco Wholesale had six additional optical departments in 2017, keeping them at a solid number two among mass merchants, with estimated sales of $1,064.9 million, passing the $1 billion milestone mark. Target Stores’ optical departments, part of Luxottica Retail, expanded with 34 new locations, as their sales increased to an estimated $307 million for 2017.

Shopko ended the year with four fewer optical departments, but sales rose to an estimated $100 million for the year. BJ’s Wholesale Clubs’ optical departments, operated by U.S. Vision/Refac, generated sales of $83.6 million while the Fred Meyers vision departments operated by National Vision remained stable at $15 million for the period.