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Optical market buoyed by contact lens sales

Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Optical market buoyed by contact lens sales
Online retailer GetLenses has deemed contact lens sales as key to the optical industry making a profit in the future - after a sliding quarter for spectacles.

Market researcher GfK has reported that contact lens sales grew 4.3 per cent in the third quarter of last year, while sales of frames declined by 9.3 per cent. The overall optical market value in the UK decreased by 3.7 per cent

Michael Kraftman, MD of GetLenses.co.uk, said: 'Sales of contact lenses are giving our industry a much needed boost during a time when consumer confidence is low and unemployment is on the rise.

'But why the continued growth in this particular area? I believe it comes down to three things: more glasses wearers converting to contact lenses, the development of more comfortable lens technologies like silicone hydrogel, and the arrival of new channels for contact lens sales, such as supermarket retailers.'

GetLenses also noted that supermarkets have increased their share of the contact lens market, from 2.3 per cent in September 2010 to 3 per cent by August 2011. It said chains such as Asda now allowed consumers to buy contact lenses online, while online retailers were 'increasingly regarded as both extremely convenient and offering highly competitive pricing'.

Brendan O'Brien, optometrist at GetLenses, said: 'While the technology behind glasses has not changed considerably during the last decade, the development of more oxygen permeable materials has made contact lenses far more comfortable and suitable for extended wear.

'This has driven many consumers to switch to lenses, while still more upgrade the type of lenses they wear, often opting for more expensive brands. I'd fully expect this trend to continue well into 2012 and we may well find that sales of contact lenses become key to supporting the optical sector during the downturn.'

Posted By +Brendan O'Brien


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