The U.S. Optical Business Barometer (OBB), a monthly gauge of general business attitudes among independent ECPs surveyed by Jobson Optical Research, rose to an index 3.8 in March, as compared to 3.7 in February, reflecting a positive attitude among independent eye care professionals. However, the March 2013 rating was lower than the March 2012 rating of 3.9.

For the three-month period from January to March 2013, the average overall rating stood at 3.8, identical to the rating in the same period of 2012, but greater than the ratings for these periods in 2011 and 2010, which stood at 3.6.

The confidence rating for the coming six months increased from 3.7 in February to 3.8 in March, as against values of 3.9 in March 2012 and 3.8 in March 2011. The outlook rose from February to March in the areas of eyeglasses, eye tests and contact lenses. Ratings for both eyeglasses and exams increased from 3.7 to 3.8, while contact lens ratings increased from 3.5 to 3.7.

The average scores for the period from January through March 2013 stood at 3.8 for eyeglasses, as compared to 3.8 in 2012 and 3.6 in 2011 and 2010. Average scores for contact lenses stood at 3.6 as compared to 3.6 in 2012 and 3.5 in 2011 and 2010. For exams, the average scores for the period of January through March 2013 stood at 3.8, versus a 3.9 in 2012 and 3.7 in 2011.

OBB ratings are also compared with findings from the U.S. Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Survey, the monthly survey conducted by Nielsen. Its latest findings revealed a decrease from a revised 68.0 index in February 2013 to a 59.7 index in March 2013. The Consumer Confidence Index had reached its highest point in January 2000, with a rating of 144.7, and its lowest point in February 2009, with a rating of 25.3.

The OBB is conducted online by Jobson Optical Research based on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “very negative,” 3 is “neutral” and 5 is “very positive.”