The Impact of Coronavirus on Eyewear

July 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had - and is having - a profound impact on the eyewear industry. Despite the essential and medical nature of many eyewear references, the industry is going through unprecedented disruption across manufacturing, distribution and consumption as a result of the pandemic. COVID-19 has exposed industry inefficiencies and is acting as a catalyst for the rapid deployment of e-commerce capabilities while enhancing fully digital shopping journeys.

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Key Findings

COVID-19 impacts both supply and demand in different waves

The effect of COVID-19 has been felt across the whole value chain. Factories in Asia Pacific were first to feel the impact, ceasing operations in early 2020. Retailers followed suit, unable to shift demand to digital channels during March and April. Even global eyewear trade shows such as Mido or Vision Expo have been cancelled or postponed.

Corrective eyewear navigates COVID-19 in a stronger position

Corrective eyewear references such as contact lenses and spectacle lenses have suffered to a lesser extent from the impact of the pandemic. Their essential nature and ease of replenishment through the e-commerce channel have played on their favour.

Discretionary eyewear to suffer the most

On the other hand, discretionary references such as sunglasses are expected to suffer the most during the pandemic. Their non-essential nature, higher than average unit price and seasonality have further diminished consumer demand.

Retail closures fire up e-commerce

COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated e-commerce adoption across all eyewear categories. The channel is set to record an increase in 2020 equivalent to that recorded between 2014 and 2019. E-commerce has become the only available path for consumers to acquire eyewear products while under lockdown.

Consumer journey becomes more digital

Beyond digital commerce, COVID-10 is accelerating much-needed digitalisation throughout the customer journey. Virtual try-ons or tele-optometry services are gaining ground among brands and retailers increasingly aware of the digital-first mindset likely to follow the pandemic.

V-shaped recovery expected globally

Despite the sudden decline, the eyewear industry is expected to recover quickly (second waves and ensuing further retail limitations permitting). By the end of 2022, much of the revenue lost in 2020 will be recovered.


Key findings
Eyewear and COVID-19

Economic Outlook

Global economy will contract sharply in 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic impacts both supply and demand
In our baseline view, the pandemic peaks in summer 2020
Three scenarios examine the impact of a more severe outbreak
Our view in short
Forecast real GDP growth in 2020 under different scenarios
Fiscal stimulus a challenge with restrictions on expenditure
What could alleviate the economic effects of the pandemic?
What could exacerbate the economic impact of the pandemic?

Industry Impact

Eyewear revenues down in 2020
COVID-19 impact at a glance
Routes to disruption
Macroeconomic indicators and forecasts are grim
Industry players expect substantial revenue losses in 2020
Sunglasses to post sharpest decline amid eyewear
No shift from contact lenses to spectacles
Rapid shift to e-commerce and further digitalisation
Overall market dynamics

Geographic Impact

Global eyewear revenues down by 14% in 2020
Asia Pacific revenues among the least affected
Western Europe struggles with depressed domestic and foreign demand
North America drives over a third of global revenue loses

Corporate Response

Main challenges for eyewear players
E-commerce uptake to accelerate on tele-optometry experience
Pandemic pressure exposes gaps in e-commerce infrastructure
EssilorLuxottica : retail partner support key to recovery
Alcon AG: messaging to sustain contact lens demand
Specsavers opens route to lockdown consumers with RemoteCare
Ace & Tate introduces online styling advice and virtual try-ons
Safilo Group SpA: goodwill initiative for own brands


Key insights: short-, medium- and long-term effects
Outlook for eyewear

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