As increasing knowledge of eye health and proper eye care has led US consumers to increasingly purchase prescription and non-prescription spectacles and sunglasses in recent years, luxury brands have proven especially popular among consumers eager to not only protect their eyes and improve their eyesight, but also to show off designer labels and iconic designs while incorporating them into their outfits as a key fashion accessory. While luxury eyewear has experienced continued growth over the past decade as a result, the positive trend has not been enough to prevent declining sales in 2020, as store and optometrist closures, travel restrictions and economic constraints have either prevented consumers from shopping for and purchasing luxury eyewear, or have led them to trade down to non-luxury eyewear products instead.
Men’s and women’s luxury sunglasses delivered the weakest performances within luxury eyewear in 2020, as closed stores, travel restrictions and economic constraints delivered a triple blow to the fashion-led segment. Months of store closures across the US amid lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus prevented consumers from trying-on sunglasses, which many prefer to do prior to purchasing.
Luxury eyewear remains dominated by large, multinational eyewear groups, with the largest among them, EssilorLuxottica SA, representing almost a third of category value in 2019. While many of such groups have grown through mergers and acquisitions, a large percentage of their sales derive from the manufacture, design, and distribution of eyewear for the leading designer brands, under licence from their brand owners.
While a multitude of factors, especially economic constraints and store and optometrist closures, have restricted luxury eyewear sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the essential nature of eyewear products coupled with consumers’ increasing concern for eye health in recent years, will help the category to make a fairly swift recovery over the coming months and years as restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus are lifted. As a result, luxury spectacle frames, men’s luxury sunglasses and women’s luxury sunglasses are all expected to return to 2019 retail value sales levels again by 2023/2024 (current terms).
Despite prolonged closures amid lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19, optical shops, classified as non-grocery specialists, remained the leading sales channel for luxury eyewear in 2020, representing over 60% of value sales. Even though optical shops have had to operate with additional cleaning and distancing protocols throughout much of the year, consumers still preferred to purchase luxury eyewear through the store-based channel thanks to the opportunity to try-on luxury spectacles and luxury sunglasses before purchasing them, to solicit the opinion of opticians and knowledgeable salespeople when choosing the right size and style for their face, and to receive discounts while purchasing multiple pairs of luxury eyewear products at the same time.
In addition to capabilities such as virtual try-on, which aim to replicate the experience of trying-on multiple luxury spectacle and luxury sunglasses styles in-store while consumers are at home or on the go, online retailers are developing a multitude of technologies to help ease the process of buying prescription and non-prescription luxury eyewear products online. For example, smartbuyglasses.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Luxury Eyewear industry in USA with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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This report originates from Passport, our Luxury Eyewear research and analysis database.
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