Coronavirus BRIEFING

Optical’s Recovery Slows, According to New Jobson COVID-19 Performance Tracker


NEW YORK—The ongoing recovery in the optical and eyecare segments hit a bump in the road last week as optical sales fell throughout the country, according to the latest Jobson COVID-19 Performance Tracker for the week ending Sept. 6. The dip comes as coronavirus cases and hotspots crop up across the nation, with COVID-19 cases rising in 30 states over the past week (according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker). While the specific service/product categories gross revenue, frame units and lens pairs all dropped by 2 index points last week, exams refractions were down 3 index points.

Only the contact lens category, which reported flat sales in the weekly period, managed to hold its own as the summer wound down and August turned into September, according to the Performance Tracker. This also marked the second consecutive weekly period that the gross revenue metric declined by 2 index points.

Although the tracking period ended Sunday, Sept. 6, and did not include the Labor Day holiday, the fact that the Aug. 30-Sept. 6 reporting week ended with a holiday weekend surely impacted optical sales as well.

Regionally, it’s no surprise the Midwest suffered the largest declines in optical sales (down 4 points on a gross revenue basis), due primarily to the fact that this census region contains 11 states that experienced increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases over the past week, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker.

The West, however, with 13 states reporting growing coronavirus cases, lost only 2 index points in most service/product categories and even saw a slight uptick of 2 index points for contact lenses. In the South, contact lens sales were flat, but other than this category, all categories in the South saw declines of 1 or 2 index points.

The Northeast also saw a lackluster performance last week, with gross revenue and exams/refractions declining 3 index points, and frame units and lens pairs each dipping by 1 index points. Contact lens sales fell 3 index points in the Northeast region last week.

Among consumers, there was a slight uptick in the percentage of Rx eyewear users who are planning to postpone or cancel their Rx eyewear purchase until conditions are better, according to the latest The Vision Council VisionWatch COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Study.

The Jobson COVID-19 Practice Performance Tracker data is compiled by Jobson Research from GPN and ABB Analyze data. Another element of the report illustrates Consumer Sentiments about the COVID-19 response and purchasing intentions, with data supplied by The Vision Council.

Click here to view the complete Jobson COVID-19 Performance Tracker.