GFK provided the Club Inter-Optiques’ conference participants with more detailed figures on the French optical market, giving it a value of €5.9 billion in 2020, representing a 10.7 percent year-on-year decline as mentioned in the previous article. In volume, the company estimates that 1.3 million fewer corrective eyeglasses were sold in France last year as compared to 2019. The market decline was almost entirely attributable to the first Covid-19 wave in the spring with sales drops in value of 43 percent, 94 percent and 39 percent for March, April and May, respectively.

The French optical market in 2020
  Value (€ million) Change y-o-y Volume (million pieces) Change y-o-y
Prescription Lenses 3,668 -8% 36 -7%
Eyeglasses 1,582 -12% 15 -8%
Sunglasses 366 -22% 5 -20%
Contact Lenses 289 -13% 158 -11%
Eyecare products 36 -22% 1 -20%
TOTAL 5,941 -10.70% - -
Source: GFK

Prescription lenses accounted for €3,668 million worth of sales last year in France, or 62 percent of the total market. They declined by 8 percent in value and by 7 percent in volume to 36 million pieces as compared to 2019, indicating a small decrease in average prices. According to GFK, the average price for unifocal lenses increased by 5.0 percent to €60 in 2020, while it went down by 6.7 percent to €153 for progressive lenses.

However, these figures are partly distorted because they include sales of the so-called “Deuxième paire”, a second pair of eyeglasses often offered for €1 only to customers in France. Eliminating the effects of the “deuxième paire” by looking at prices over a certain threshold - €20 for unifocal lenses and €50 for progressive lenses - GFK’s research showed that the average price for single-vision lenses went down by 2.4 percent to €81 and progressive lenses by 6.1 percent to €214.

The research also showed that private label lenses gained market shares against branded lenses last year in France, which might partly explain the decrease in average prices. They represented 37.4 percent of lenses sold in 2020, with volumes down by 3 percent only while the drop in branded lenses volumes was measured at 9 percent.

Looking at the volume breakdowns of lenses’ sales by price segment, GFK noted an increase in the share of entry and mid-level priced products. In particular, unifocal lenses in the €20-€60 price range gained 3 percentage points, reaching 26 percent of all single-vision lenses sold. In the progressive lenses category, products in the €50-150 bracket reached a 20 percent share of volumes, a 4 percentage point hike, while the share of lenses over €300 went down from 15 percent to 11 percent.

Sales of eyeglasses in France totaled €1,582 million in 2020, a 12 percent decline in value and 8 percent in volume to 15 million pieces. After neutralization of the “deuxième paire” effect, the average price for a pair of eyeglasses was calculated at €130, a decrease limited to 2.2 percent in spite of the introduction on Jan.1 of the healthcare reform capping the maximum refunds by the social security and private insurances to €100.

The market repartition in volume between private label and branded products remained roughly unchanged last year in the eyeglasses segment, with branded eyewear accounting for 61.6 percent of sales. In terms of market share by price range, GFK also noticed an increase in volumes for lower-priced eyeglasses. Frames under €30 and in the €30-100 bracket gained 2 and 3 percentage points, respectively, together representing 47 percent of eyeglasses sold. Frames in the €100-150 range kept a stable 23 percent market share but high-end frames over €150 lost 5 percentage points, however still accounting for 30 percent of the market.

Sales of sunglasses by French opticians fell by 22 percent year-on-year to €366 million in 2020, and by 20 percent in volume. At €289 million in 2020, contact lenses sales dropped by 13 percent in value, and by 11 percent in volume.