May 22, 2019
The general retail market was buffeted by disruption in 2018, but the U.S. optical retail sector held its own, even managing to show growth of 2-3 percent for the calendar year, according to the latest Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers report from Vision Monday, which was recently released.
But while the sales story remained fairly constant, there was a reshaping of the business composition of many leading optical retailers, as the run of acquisitions and consolidation that began at the beginning of the decade continued apace.
Notable in this year’s report, which unveils a very stable ranking among most of the Top 10 optical companies, is the debut of Warby Parker as a Top 10 member. The clicks-and-bricks company breaks into the Top 10 at the No. 9 position this year.
At the same time, Vision Source secured its hold on the No. 1 spot in the Top 50 ranking, with a year that saw the franchisor’s practices achieve growth that outpaced the overall industry.
Up and down the 11-50 rankings group, the impact of private equity-backed consolidation is more noticeable, as hundreds of smaller and mid-size independents find themselves turning over the ownership reigns to larger group practices.
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On more of a macro level, and following the trend of the previous year’s rankings, the 2018 VM Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers group captured a larger share of the overall market last year, accounting for 40.2 percent of the total $35.7 billion U.S. vision care market sales.
The Top 10 retailers this year similarly grabbed a significantly larger piece of the vision care marketplace, 35.2 percent for this year’s Top 10 compared with 33.2 percent for the Top 50 of a year ago.
Mass merchants’ share of the vision care market held steady at 9.8 percent, but still significantly larger than this group’s 9.4 percent share just two years ago.