The economic uncertainty is affecting sales of prescription frames in Europe, judging from some figures supplied to us by GfK and taken from its retail panel. It has hit particularly hard opticians in the U.K., whose sales of this type of product fell by an estimated 5 percent in volume during the eight months ended last August, as compared to the same period of last year.

Sales of prescription frames grew by 2 percent in Germany and by 1 percent in Italy, instead. They dropped by 1 percent in Spain and remained stable in France. Overall, the market for prescription frames fell by 0.8 percent in the five countries analyzed by GfK during the first eight months of this year, down to a total of about 28.8 million pairs.

The U.K. and Germany had the highest shares in the consumption of prescription frames, representing 28.7 and 27.3 percent of the total volume, respectively. France followed with a share of 24.5 percent. Spain and Italy came next with shares of 10.0 and 9.5 percent, respectively.

GfK also gave a taste of the trends in the consumption of prescription frames to the readers of EyeWear Intelligence. Total sales of rimless frames declined by 5 percent in the five major European countries during the period, and they represented only 4.5 percent of the market by volume. Sales of half-rimmed frames with a nylon bottom declined at an even faster rate of 9 percent, taking up 14 percent of the total market. Full frames constituted the bulk of consumers' purchases, with a share of 50.8 percent, and their sales rose by 2 percent.