At first sight, sunglasses was less affected by the closure of opticians than other eyewear categories, as sunglasses products remained widely available through e-commerce and modern grocery retailers. However, sunglasses has, in fact, been the eyewear category to be hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.
Almost all store-based retailing has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. While e-commerce sales of sunglasses immediately took-off in 2020 and forged ahead in 2021, store-based sales of sunglasses plummeted in 2020 and struggled to recover in 2021 as a result of factors such as the limited sales in ski resort outlets early in the year, the lack of sales to inbound tourists in opticians and apparel specialist retailers in Paris and the French Riviera, the closure of most department stores (which account for a significant share of sunglasses sales) from the end of 2020 to mid-2021, and the closure of opticians located in shopping centres whose selling space exceeds 20,000 square metres.
Luxottica France SARL’s market-leading Ray-Ban brand registered a significant increase in share in 2020 despite experiencing a steep fall in sales. Ray-Ban, which is not really a luxury brand, forged ahead, being present everywhere: through opticians, department stores, and via e-commerce.
Sunglasses is expected to see strong growth in 2022 and exceed pre-pandemic levels of sales in current value terms in 2023 (though the category is not expected to reach pre-pandemic sales at constant 2021 prices by the end of the forecast period). Growth is set to be driven by the easing of measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the resumption of outdoor activities.
The COVID-19 crisis has consolidated the position of e-commerce in sunglasses, and the channel has a strong platform for further development in the category during the forecast period. Building a strong online presence will be key to remaining competitive, with a considerable pressure on store-based retailers to develop multi-channel strategies as the number of optical shops going into bankruptcy is set to rise in 2022-2023.
Market-leader, Ray-Ban and luxury brands are set to retain a strong position in sunglasses during the forecast period. Ray-Ban benefits from strong, widespread distribution, with a high level of consumer traffic through opticians, department stores, and via the internet.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Sunglasses industry in France 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 Sunglasses research and analysis database.
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