The eyewear market has been undergoing a major reorganization of retail networks, and Italy is no exception. Many small independent outlets are integrating themselves into buying groups or into national or international chains. A signal of this evolution was given at the edition of MIDO, the largest optical fair in the world, held in Milan on May 5-8. Exhibitors say the volume of business written during the fair was actually on the increase, although the number of visitors declined, particularly from the national market. MIDO's chairman, Cirillo Marcolin, sees independent opticians being steadily replaced by professional buyers who are in a position to place larger orders and make contacts for future deals.
MIDO had a total of 1,100 exhibitors from 34 countries, and the waiting list is still high. Total attendance fell by 1.8 percent to 37,031 persons, as compared to last year. The number of Italian visitors declined by 4.6 percent to 20,314. Foreign presence on the other hand increased by 1.9 percent to 16,717 people, indicating perhaps that Italian-made eyewear products are gaining ground again. The favorable exchange rate and the recovery of the Far East economy are bringing the Asians back. The Asian contingent was up from 7 to 9 percent of the total. The American presence dropped from 11.9 to 11.3 percent, no doubt in part because of the reduction in the American market for glass frames, and the percentage of European visitors fell from 80 to 78 percent. Though of little significance in the total figures, there was a five-fold increase in visitors from Oceania, up from 0.2 to 1.2 percent.