The repression of the widespread pattern of counterfeiting still going on in the broad fashion market, sunglasses included, has led Italian authorities to discover a curious abbreviation adopted for products distributed in Italian market stalls. To reassure the consumer, the sunglasses are stamped with the letters «CE,» the same as those used to certify conformity with European Union standards, but possibly with a different typeface. In fact, almost all the sunglasses sold at market stalls or by street peddlers in Italy bear a CE stamp, but investigations have revealed that the initials actually mean ?China Export,? no doubt to guard against incrimination for fraudulent merchandise.

This information was given by Gianni Mariutti, leader of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, an Italian state institute for health, during the presentation of another statistical study promoted by the Italian Commissione Difesa Vista (Vision Defense Committee) to raise awareness about the dangers for the wearer's eyesight from excessive exposure to UV radiation. The survey, carried out in December 2009, showed among other things that Italian consumers have become more concerned about purchasing their sunglasses in the different retail channels as compared to two years before, when a similar study was conducted on the subject.

While purchases made from market stalls remained more or less flat, at around 5 percent of the sample, compared with 4 percent in 2007, 5 percent of consumers who previously purchased sunglasses from an optician now buy them from a sports retailer. Opticians still account for half of purchases, sports stores have gained 5 points, up from 4 to 9 percent, and purchases in supermarkets are up from 3 to 5 percent. Sunglass purchases have grown overall, according to this study, as the percentage of people who have not to have purchased them at all in the past two years has dropped from 33 to 31 percent.

When it comes to buying sunglasses for their children, only 5 percent of the respondents confessed in the latest survey to having bought them from a market stall, or that they would be inclined to doing so. Others said they either didn't have children or are that they were not sure they would make such a purchase, but almost all the remainder of the sample said they wouldn't purchase counterfeit products. The percentage of people who would never buy glasses for their children from a street market went up from 73 to 75 percent. No figures were given for the evolution of the children's sunglass market in Italy, but it's still relatively rare to see children wearing sunglasses on Italian beaches, while in Australia it's the complete opposite ? it has become the norm for children to wear them.

Among the criteria followed when purchasing sunglasses, the quality of the lens came out as the clear leader in the latest survey, singled out by 73 percent of the population. Only 11 percent of the sample rated price as being more important. Even fewer people put style as most important factor, and only 2 percent put forward the brand as the most important criterion.