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Optical Goods Retailing - UK - February 2015

“The market for optical goods in the UK is concentrating into the hands of three major companies: Specsavers, Boots Opticians and Vision Express. Although Specsavers is reaching saturation in terms of store numbers we have seen Boots on an expansion trail, while Vision Express has been expanding by buying up established businesses. Meanwhile, small-to-medium sized chains have been under intense pressure and many established names have been subsumed into the larger groups. Established opticians are also facing new challenges as Tesco and Asda’s in-store chains reach maturity. In these tough market conditions we see continued efforts to persuade consumers to switch retailers, as well as companies aiming to expand their services by adding other revenue streams including hearing care and domiciliary services.”
– Jane Westgarth, Senior Market Analyst

This report answers the following questions:

  • How much are discounts influencing demand?
  • Do people who use screen-based technology want special eyewear?
  • Will supermarkets come to dominate optics?

In the last ten years we have seen the opticians market concentrate into the hands of fewer but larger businesses, leaving three major chains and fewer smaller competitors. Market leader, Specsavers, has continued to add to its already high store numbers in the UK; Boots has absorbed Dollond & Aitchison and Vision Express has expanded by buying several regional chains. Meanwhile a smaller multiple, Optical Express, resorted to rationalisation of store numbers and corporate refinancing in order to remain afloat.

Although this knocks out several established retailers, competition remains fierce, especially as the supermarket chains have all expanded their in-store opticians presence. Tesco (run by Galaxy), Asda and Sainsbury’s (via an arrangement with Mee) have all added to their in-store opticians chains, with Tesco and Asda focussing on low prices.

In 2014 the market grew to reach over £2 billion. Growth was helped by a stronger performance in contact lenses, some price increases and a tendency for opticians to prescribe more added-value spectacle lenses such as varifocals.

This report takes a look at optical goods and sunglasses. It examines consumer spending, looks at what consumers are buying and where. It takes a look at the uptake of special offers in the marketplace, as well as people’s attitudes to buying lenses specially designed for using with screen-based technology such as mobile phones and computers.

This report covers core goods and services sold through opticians including:

  • Eye tests 
  • Prescription sunglasses 
  • Spectacle frames and lenses (we use the term glasses and spectacles interchangeably) 
  • Contact lenses (including aftercare) 
  • Contact lens solutions through opticians, chemists and other outlets. 


In addition, this report includes eyecare solutions, such as Optrex, eye baths and eye masks, which are used for the treatment of sore and tired eyes.

The report also looks at the market for non-prescription sunglasses including those sold by outlets other than opticians.

For the purposes of this report, retail opticians shops and optical practices refer to shops staffed by qualified opticians. There are three types of practitioner:

Optometrists or Ophthalmic Opticians (often abbreviated to OOs) are registered with the General Optical Council and specialise in sight testing and the prescribing and dispensing of spectacles and optical appliances. They are trained to recognise eye diseases and abnormalities which may require further medical intervention.

Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners (OMPs) are fully qualified doctors with a speciality in eyes and eyecare. They are registered with the General Medical Council and can test sight and prescribe spectacles and other appliances. They are also trained in the detection and treatment of eye diseases and abnormalities.

Dispensing Opticians (DOs) are qualified to dispense, fit and supply spectacles, but they require an additional certificate to fit contact lenses. Dispensing opticians with additional qualifications can become contact lens opticians. Contact lenses may also be fitted by qualified OMPs and Optometrists.

 

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Definition
        • Excluded
          • Abbreviations
          • Executive Summary

              • The market
                • Figure 1: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, 2009-19
                • Figure 2: Consumer spend on non-prescription sunglasses, 2009-19
                • Figure 3: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, by category, 2014 (est)
              • Market factors
                • Companies, brands and innovation
                  • Figure 4: Distribution of optical goods and services, by value, UK, 2014 (est)
                • The consumer
                  • Who had an eye test?
                    • Figure 5: Had an eye test in the last twelve months, by age, November 2014
                  • About the last eye test
                    • Figure 6: About the last eye test, November 2014
                  • Who wears glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses?
                    • Figure 7: Wearers of glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses, November 2014
                    • Figure 8: Purchases of eyewear in the last twelve months, November 2014
                  • Retailers used
                    • Figure 9: Retailers used for last purchase of eyewear, by type, November 2014
                  • About the last eyewear purchase
                    • Figure 10: About the last eyewear purchase, November 2014
                  • Attitudes to eyewear
                    • Figure 11: Attitudes to eyewear, November 2014
                  • Three target groups for eyewear
                    • Figure 12: Attitudes to eyewear, target groups, November 2014
                  • Interest in eyewear for using screens
                    • Figure 13: Using screens with eyewear, November 2014
                  • What we think
                  • Issues and Insights

                      • How much are discounts influencing demand?
                        • The facts
                          • The implications
                            • Do people who use screen-based technology want special eyewear?
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • Will supermarkets come to dominate optics?
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                      • Trend Application

                                          • Trend: FSTR HYPR
                                            • Trend: Return to the Experts
                                              • Trend: Old Gold
                                              • Market Size and Segmentation

                                                • Key points
                                                  • Figure 14: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, 2009-19
                                                  • Figure 15: Consumer spend on non-prescription sunglasses, 2009-19
                                                • Total spend on optical goods and services
                                                  • Figure 16: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, 2009-14
                                                  • Figure 17: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, by category, 2014 (est)
                                                  • Figure 18: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, by category, 2009-14
                                                • Sunglasses
                                                  • Figure 19: Consumer spend on plano (non-prescription) sunglasses, 2009-14
                                              • Competitive Context

                                                • Key points
                                                  • Optical goods in the context of retail sales
                                                    • Figure 20: Retail sales, non-food stores, medical goods, cosmetics and toiletries, other specialists and optical goods, 2009-14
                                                  • Laser eyesight correction poses a direct challenge
                                                    • Ready readers are an alternative to spectacles
                                                      • New technology
                                                      • Market Environment

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • 83% of homes have a laptop computer
                                                            • Figure 21: Household ownership of consumer technology products, October 2014
                                                          • 74% own a smartphone
                                                            • Figure 22: Personal ownership of consumer technology products, October 2014
                                                          • Population by age
                                                            • Figure 23: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2009-19
                                                          • More kids
                                                              • Figure 24: Wearers of glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses, by age, November 2014
                                                            • The economy is recovering
                                                              • Figure 25: Trends in how respondents would describe their financial situation, February 2009 and January 2015
                                                            • People are feeling better off
                                                              • Figure 26: Trends in consumer sentiment for the coming year, February 2009 and January 2015
                                                          • Strengths and Weaknesses

                                                            • Strengths
                                                              • Weaknesses
                                                              • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Smart eyewear
                                                                    • Retail innovations
                                                                      • Figure 27: Black & Lizars’ Edinburgh flagship, 2014
                                                                    • Personal eye-health reports
                                                                      • Cutting down on blue light
                                                                        • Heritage-inspired eyewear
                                                                          • Figure 28: Monocles for the modern man
                                                                        • New entrant in the market
                                                                          • Figure 29: John Lewis Opticians, Stratford
                                                                        • Blood pressure checks
                                                                          • Eye-enhancing lenses
                                                                          • Companies and Products

                                                                            • Key points
                                                                              • Suppliers of spectacle frames and sunglasses
                                                                                • Luxottica
                                                                                  • Brands
                                                                                    • Figure 30: Luxottica brands
                                                                                  • Financial performance
                                                                                    • Figure 31: Financial performance of the Luxottica Group, 2010-13
                                                                                  • Safilo
                                                                                    • Brands
                                                                                      • Figure 32: Safilo brands
                                                                                    • Financial performance
                                                                                      • Figure 33: Financial performance of Safilo, 2010-13
                                                                                    • Marchon Eyewear
                                                                                      • Figure 34: Marchon brands
                                                                                    • De Rigo
                                                                                      • Brands
                                                                                        • Figure 35: De Rigo brands
                                                                                      • Financial performance
                                                                                        • Figure 36: De Rigo financial data, 2011-13
                                                                                      • Fabris Lane
                                                                                        • Other suppliers of spectacle frames and sunglasses
                                                                                          • Figure 37: Key suppliers of spectacle frames and sunglasses to the UK optical goods market
                                                                                        • Suppliers of spectacle lenses
                                                                                          • Figure 38: Key suppliers of spectacle lenses to the UK optical goods market
                                                                                        • Suppliers of contact lenses and contact lens solutions
                                                                                          • Figure 39: Key suppliers of contact lenses and contact lens solutions
                                                                                      • Channels to Market

                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                          • Specialists dominate distribution
                                                                                            • Figure 40: Distribution of optical goods by retailer, 2014 (est)
                                                                                          • Concentration of the sector
                                                                                            • Alternative suppliers
                                                                                              • Online selling
                                                                                                • The march of the supermarkets
                                                                                                  • 4,700 independents
                                                                                                    • John Lewis opens first in-store opticians
                                                                                                      • Franchises and non-core products
                                                                                                        • Figure 41: Distribution of Optical goods, estimate, 2010-14
                                                                                                    • Retailer Profiles

                                                                                                      • Boots Opticians
                                                                                                        • Financial performance
                                                                                                          • Figure 42: Boots financial data, 2011-14
                                                                                                        • Optical Express
                                                                                                          • Financial performance
                                                                                                            • Figure 43: Optical Express financial data, 2012-13
                                                                                                          • Specsavers
                                                                                                            • Financial performance
                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Specsavers financial data, 2011-14
                                                                                                            • Vision Express
                                                                                                              • Financial performance
                                                                                                                • Figure 45: Vision Express financial data, 2010-13
                                                                                                              • Other opticians chains
                                                                                                                • Supermarket opticians
                                                                                                                  • Asda
                                                                                                                    • Tesco Opticians
                                                                                                                      • Sainsbury’s
                                                                                                                        • Morrisons
                                                                                                                        • Brand Communication and Promotion

                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                            • Advertising spend up 27% in four years
                                                                                                                              • Figure 46: Above-the-line advertising expenditure on optical goods and eyecare, by company, 2011-14
                                                                                                                            • Advertising dominated by the big three
                                                                                                                              • Figure 47: Above-the-line advertising expenditure on optical goods and eyecare, by company, 2014
                                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Above-the-line advertising expenditure on optical goods and eyecare, by company, 2011-2014
                                                                                                                          • Brand Research – Optical Goods Retailing

                                                                                                                            • What you need to know
                                                                                                                              • Brand map
                                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, December 2014
                                                                                                                              • Key brand metrics
                                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Key metrics for selected brands, December 2014
                                                                                                                              • Brand attitudes: Vision Express positioned as premium, Specsavers and Boots Opticians are considered more reliable and accessible
                                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Attitudes, by brand, December 2014
                                                                                                                              • Brand personality: Specsavers’ advertising drives an upbeat brand image
                                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Brand personality – Macro image, December 2014
                                                                                                                              • Specsavers and Boots Opticians have high association with customer service traits
                                                                                                                                • Figure 53: Brand personality – micro image, December 2014
                                                                                                                              • Brand analysis
                                                                                                                                • Specsavers combines value, customer service and an upbeat brand image to appeal to a wide range of consumers
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 54: User profile of Specsavers – ever used, December 2014
                                                                                                                                • Boots Opticians boasts strong accessibility and customer service associations
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 55: User profile of Boots Opticians – ever used, December 2014
                                                                                                                                • Tesco Opticians’ lack of exposure results in a weaker brand image, but there are signs for potential growth
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 56: User profile of Tesco Opticians – ever used, December 2014
                                                                                                                                • Vision Express’s premium image risks expensive and overrated associations
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: User profile of Vision Express – ever used, December 2014
                                                                                                                                • Optical Express’s point of difference struggles to impact on older consumers
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: User profile of Optical Express – Ever used, December 2014
                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Eye Tests

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • Eye tests in the last 12 months
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 59: Had an eye test in the last twelve months, November 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 60: Had an eye test in the last twelve months, by age, November 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 61: Had an eye test in the last twelve months, by financial situation, November 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Uptake of special offers for eye tests
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 62: Eye test special offers, by age, November 2014
                                                                                                                                  • About the last eye test
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 63: About the last eye test, November 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Switching for deals
                                                                                                                                    • Loyalty matters
                                                                                                                                      • Arrangements with employers
                                                                                                                                        • Inconvenient?
                                                                                                                                          • Technology
                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – Users of Glasses, Sunglasses or Contact Lenses

                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                              • Users of glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 64: Wearers of glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 65: Wearers of glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses, by gender and age, November 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Wearing glasses increases with age
                                                                                                                                                • Young profile for contact lens wearers
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 66: Wearers of contact lenses, by income, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                • The Consumer – Purchases of Eyewear

                                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                                    • Purchases of eyewear
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 67: Purchases of eyewear in the last twelve months, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                    • More than half buy glasses
                                                                                                                                                      • 12% buy contact lenses
                                                                                                                                                        • Over-65s most likely to buy prescription sunglasses
                                                                                                                                                          • Under-45s buy most ready-to-wear sunglasses
                                                                                                                                                            • Baby Boomers most likely to buy ready readers
                                                                                                                                                              • People who had eye tests most likely to buy
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 68: Purchases of eyewear in the last twelve months, by eye test, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Special offers on glasses
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 69: Took advantage of a special offer on glasses, by age, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – Retailers Used for Eyewear

                                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                • Retailers used for eyewear
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 70: Retailers used for last purchase of eyewear, by type, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Specsavers is the most-used optician
                                                                                                                                                                  • Independents appeal to retired people
                                                                                                                                                                    • Where they bought, by type of eyewear
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 71: Retailers used for last purchase of eyewear, by type, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 72: Retailers used for last purchase of eyewear, by type, November 2014 (continued)
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 73: Retailers used, by factors about the last eyewear purchase, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • The Consumer – About the Last Eyewear Purchase

                                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                      • About the last eyewear purchase
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 74: About the last eyewear purchase, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Older shoppers more loyal
                                                                                                                                                                        • Almost half of younger shoppers used a different optician this time
                                                                                                                                                                          • 16-44s shopping online to save money
                                                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – Attitudes to Eyewear

                                                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 75: Attitudes to eyewear, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                              • Three key target groups
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 76: Attitudes to eyewear, target groups, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                              • Eyewear Neutral (33%)
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 77: Attitudes to buying optical goods, Eyewear Neutral target group, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                • Premium Eyewear (33%)
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 78: Attitudes to buying optical goods, Premium Eyewear target group, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Delayers (34%)
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 79: Attitudes to buying optical goods, Delayers target group, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • The Consumer – Using Screens with Eyewear

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Using screens with eyewear
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 80: Using screens with eyewear, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cutting down glare
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Good vision at different distances
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Comfortable eyes
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Older people least interested in glasses for use with screens

                                                                                                                                                                                            Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Alliance Boots UK Retail
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Boots UK health & beauty retail
                                                                                                                                                                                            • De Rigo

                                                                                                                                                                                            Optical Goods Retailing - UK - February 2015

                                                                                                                                                                                            £1,995.00 (Excl.Tax)