The Nordic optics and eye health market is growing. There are several reasons for this: We are living longer and this creates a greater need for vision correction. Our increased use of tablets, mobile phones and computers is increasing short-sightedness, especially among younger people. And, finally, glasses have become a fashion item that is being frequently replaced.
The optics market is resilient
According to the market study that was prepared for Synsam, the size of the Nordic optics industry as at 2020 was estimated to be close to SEK 18 billion. The optics market, with its link to eye health, is more resilient to economic fluctuations compared with other retail segments and is thus less exposed to a shift from physical stores to online sales. This is expected to lead to continued growth of around three percent per year in the coming years.
Glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses
The industry’s most important product category is glasses, with frames and lenses together accounting for 78 percent of the market. Contact lenses make up another 14 percent of the market, and most contact lens wearers also wear glasses or sunglasses to complement them. Sunglasses account for about eight percent of the market.
There are three key trends behind the continued growth in the optical retail sector that contribute to continued stability and volume growth in the Nordic market.
As life expectancy in the Nordic countries increases, so too does the need for vision correction, which in turn leads to increased sales of glasses and other products.
Increased screen time
Today we spend more and more time in front of screens on mobile phones, tablets and computers. Increased screen time, combined with more time spent indoors and less time outdoors in natural light, is making short-sightedness more common in all age groups, but particularly among younger people. By 2050, it is estimated that 50 percent of the Nordic population will be short-sighted, compared with around 34 percent today.
Glasses are no longer only a medical necessity – they are also a fashion statement, which, according to the study, means that the number of pairs of glasses each person owns will increase, and the time between changes of glasses will become shorter. In 2015, the average time from purchase to replacement was three years; customer surveys show that this average time has now dropped to 2.3 years.
The vast majority of glasses and sunglasses are purchased in traditional optical retailers, partly as a natural consequence of the need for eye examinations. Only four percent of all glasses in the Nordic countries were purchased online in 2020.