After the double-digit increases recorded in recent times, the growth in Italy's eyewear exports slowed down to a rate of 4.7 percent in the first half of 2016. Compensating for this trend, the Italian market showed a slight recovery during the period, according to the Italian eyewear industry association, Anfao, which noted increases in the members' domestic sell-in of 6 percent for sunglasses and 7 percent for lenses and prescription frames.

Sunglasses continued to drive Italy's exports in the first six months of the year, rising by 6.9 percent across the globe, while total exports of prescription frames were practically flat, going down by 0.1 percent, in spite of positive performances in Europe, the Americas and Africa. Italian sunglasses booked particularly good results in countries such as Germany and the U.K. as well as in Africa, a continent where they grew by 15.9 percent to a still marginal level.

The Italian eyewear industry's total exports from Italy to all the other European countries rose by 7.7 percent, with increases of 10.8 percent in sunglasses and 2.1 percent in prescription frames. Sales to France, which remained the largest foreign destination after the U.S., rose by only 3.6 percent. The industry recorded increases of 7.9 percent in Germany, 4.8 percent in the U.K., 11.9 percent in Spain, 7.4 percent in Greece, 13.9 percent in the Netherlands, 42.1 percent in Poland and 47.8 percent in Hungary.

An overall increase of 3.4 percent was registered in Italy's exports to the U.S., up by 4 percent for sunglasses and by 1.7 percent for prescription frames. A strong performance in Mexico, where sales jumped by 34.8 percent, helped the sector to book an 11.8 percent increase in Central and South America.

In Asia, Italy's eyewear exports declined by 1.3 percent, with a 0.8 percent increase in sunglasses offset by a drop of 8.4 percent in prescription frames. Sales rose by 2.7 percent in Japan and by 2.3 percent in India but fell by 8.2 percent in China and by 25 percent in South Korea.

Inverting a long downward trend, the Russian market showed a 12.9 percent increase in Italian eyewear exports. The oil crisis didn't prevent increases of 12.4 percent in the United Arab Emirates and 13.5 percent in Saudi Arabia.