In early November 2020, Euromonitor International published revised forecasts for eyewear for 2020 to 2025 that considered the implications of Coronavirus (COVID-19). COVID-19 has severely disrupted global demand for eyewear in 2020, but impacted demand differently across categories and markets. This quarterly update reflects the impact of the latest sets of COVID-19 containment restrictions and the announcement that vaccination campaigns were starting in various parts of the world.
COVID-19 has impacted eyewear categories to different extents, with sunglasses being the worst hit, as the pandemic and its devastating impact have led consumers to focus on essentials, while the category also suffered from significant travel disruptions.
Full-year revenues for spectacles have been upgraded, mostly as the US spectacles market is set to decline less sharply in 2020, thanks to optical shops having reopened since May-June, and as consumers working from home are more often wearing spectacles over contact lenses. Also, the new sets of retail restrictions in Europe in November 2020 did not cause similar store-based losses as in early 2020, as optical shops were allowed to remain open.
In Q4 2020, contact lenses revenues for the full year 2020 and the forecasts through to 2025 remain aligned with the June 2020 estimates. Sales of contact lenses were cushioned from the blow of COVID-19 and retail restrictions better than other eyewear categories, thanks to a greater penetration of online sales pre-COVID-19. Increased home working continues to drive a shift from frequent replacement lenses (FRPs) to daily disposables (DDs).
Travel restrictions and lockdown measures continue to have a detrimental impact on demand for sunglasses, the most discretionary eyewear category. But in Q4 2020, forecasts for sunglasses were improved to reflect the hope that travel activities will resume to some normality by the second half of 2021, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, announced in late 2020.
COVID-19 has forced the eyewear industry to accelerate its shift to e-commerce, supported by the adoption of digital tools, such as virtual try-on and tele-optometry. Manufacturers and retailers are indeed accelerating their digitalisation in an attempt to counterbalance store-based losses, and generate lockdown-proof revenues in case of major disruptions in future.
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