Once a sleepy market characterised by the “older generation” and NHS
frames, the eyewear industry has transformed and is experiencing
phenomenal growth, with a 44% CAGR predicted by 2023. For those
that didn’t see this coming, it’s time to polish off your spectacles as we
take a look at the journey and future of an industry that has seen it all.
Eyewear wasn’t always the glitz and glam it is today. Prescription glasses
were seen as a burden and sunglasses a luxury – the average person didn’t
want one, and couldn’t afford the other. Contact lenses were almost
unheard of, and laser eye surgery was something reserved for a Thursday
night on Tomorrow’s World. However, it wasn’t all bad. Eyewear has typically been a very profitable industry, with a captured audience and markups of 100% not uncommon. It is, perhaps, no wonder that Mary Perkins – the co-founder of Specsavers – is Britain’s first self-made female billionaire.
More people wear glasses. We’re living longer, spending more time staring at screens and have easier access to affordable eye tests. We have also become educated about the damaging effects of the sun and the health benefits of wearing sunglasses. It’s no longer uncommon for someone to wear glasses and, accordingly, more people are buying glasses and entering a lifetime of paying for updated lenses and frames.