This is the tentative forecast recently made for this year by Germany's well-organized Central Association of Opticians (ZVA), based on the latest indications from the market. According to ZVA, German opticians' sales grew by only 0.6 percent in 2001 to e4,039 million, with flat revenues in all the major product categories. In terms of volume, there were decreases of about 2.6 percent in both frames and lenses.

On the other hand, the number of optical practices continued to grow by 63 units to 9,753. Led by Fielmann, the country's 10 largest optical retail chains have come to represent about 12 percent of all the shops and 28.3 percent of all the revenues.

A factor of concern for ZVA is the large number of cheap readers and other ready-to-wear glasses, estimated at about 3 million a year, sold in supermarkets, convenience stores or department stores. A few days ago, ZVA filed a suit in a Berlin court against a supermarket chain, Netto-Supermarkt, to stop it from offering ready-to-wear eyeglasses for nearsighted people. These glasses are not being marketed just as readers, but also as glasses that can be used for driving