The Covid-19 pandemic put a brutal end to a decade of steady growth for the German eyewear industry, according to a new report by Spectaris, the national trade association. After a record sales’ increase of 5.4 percent in 2019, revenues of German suppliers of optical products dropped by 9.5 percent year-on-year to €4.25 billion in 2020. These figures include sales of eyeglasses’ frames, sunglasses, lenses, contact lenses, eyecare products as well as vision screening equipment, tools and binoculars through all distribution channels. They are collected annually by the association among its members.

Domestic sales of German suppliers decreased by 7.3 percent to €2.22 billion in 2020, roughly in line with the 7 percent drop measured by GFK for the national market based on optical shops’ sell-out data. Export revenues were more severely impacted and fell by 11.7 percent year-on-year to €2.04 billion euros, still representing about half of the German industry’s sales. Spectaris notes that at 20,300 people, or only 1.3 percent less than a year ago, employment figures in the industry remained relatively stable in spite of the reduction in revenues.

Further commenting on the results, Spectaris said that higher eyecare needs resulting from the lifestyle change and extended use of screens, as well as the temporary reduction in the VAT rate decided by the government to sustain consumption, didn’t make up for lockdown-related restrictions and a generally depressed consumer confidence. It also notes that online sales rose for some product categories that do not require a high level of customer support. This was the case last year for contact lenses whose online sales by German suppliers rose by 6 percent year-on-year.  

According to the association, its members are relatively optimistic for their business in the current year as eyesight correction needs are seen progressing in the future. Based on their estimates and feedback, the association believes that the worst-case scenario for 2021 would result in a 1 percent sales’ growth in sales for German suppliers on both the domestic and the international market. In the most optimistic case, German suppliers’ revenues are seen increasing by as much as 11 percent on their domestic market and 12 percent abroad.