The ophthalmic optics market rose by 7.0 percent in 2015 to more than €17 billion in Italy, France, Spain and Germany, according to GfK's Optics Panel, which covers opticians' sales of spectacle lenses, frames, sunglasses, contact lenses and lens care products. Progress was registered in all the countries and all the product categories.

The report indicates a further major improvement in the market situation during the second half of last year, considering that GfK's retail panel had found a growth rate of only 4.9 percent during the first half in the same countries, which was itself better than the growth in the previous year.

According to the market research company, double-digit sales growth was recorded last year in both Spain and Germany with increases of 10.5 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively. Sales rose by 4.1 percent in Italy and by 3.8 percent in France, where other market research reports have pointed to a lower rate of growth (see the article on Krys in this issue, for example).

A report circulated by GfK one year ago showed the market grew by only 3.0 percent in Germany and by 0.6 percent in France during 2014. It declined by 0.2 percent in Spain and by 0.5 percent in Italy.

In terms of the various product segments, spectacle lenses, which represent 58 percent of the total eyewear market, enjoyed the biggest sales increase with a rate of 7.8 percent. While unit sales went up by 5.8 percent, average selling prices rose by 1.8 percent thanks to higher sales of high value-added products. GfK's data indicate strong increases for progressive lenses, particularly in France and Germany, where they represent about 32 pecent of the lens market, as well as for lenses with refraction indexes of 1.6 and 1.67.

Sales of prescription frames went up by 6.5 percent across the four countries, says GfK, adding that progressive lenses are being more frequently fitted into higher-end frames. Recovering from the 3.6 percent decline registered in 2014, the sunglass market posted a remarkable increase of 7.0 percent.