Every day we wear sunglasses is a date with the sun. Sunwear is loved for its protective properties but equally adored for its statements on style. Eyecare professionals have the competitive advantage when it comes to dispensing sunwear—the capability to provide Rx solutions, expertise on fit and the opportunity for that second pair sale. 20/20 presents our annual Sunwear MarketPulse Survey 2024 conducted by Jobson Research, surveying independent optical retailers on their sunwear sales performance as well as emerging market trends. Take a look at the latest data on the sunwear market, and make your date with the sun.

–Christine Yeh

  • Almost two thirds (65 percent) of respondents said that Rx sunwear is growing for their practice. Ten percent were unsure.
  • Mature adults (age 45 to 54) accounted for the largest percent of Rx sunwear sales (an average of 30 percent) according to those independents surveyed. Fifty-two percent of respondents said that females are buying more Rx sunwear than males. Seventeen percent said males more than females, and 32 percent said the same for both genders.
  • Of the independents surveyed, 53 percent said consumers are more knowledgeable about sunwear than they were five years ago.
  • Forty-seven percent disagreed with the statement that they feel the lines between fashion oriented sunwear and sports oriented sunwear are blurring, compared to 45 percent agreeing. (Nine percent said don’t know.) Of the 45 percent that agreed that the lines were blurring, 48 percent think this is helping the sales of both Rx and plano sunglasses. Only 8 percent claim the merging is hurting their sunwear sales.
  • Over half (59 percent) of independents surveyed said they always recommend that their contact lens patients buy sunglasses. However, respondents said only 14 percent of their patients on average actually make a sunwear purchase at the time they are fit for new contacts.
  • On average, respondents said 66 percent of total retail sunwear dollars comes from Rx complete, 21 percent from plano complete, 10 percent from clip-ons and 4 percent from fit-overs.
  • When asked what was the greatest differentiating quality independents have over other channels, superior service takes the top spot with 35 percent, followed by product customization at 30 percent and frames/lens knowledge at 22 percent.
  • On average, independents said polycarbonate lenses made up 46 percent of their total prescription sun lens sales, and 39 percent of plano sunwear lens sales as well. Plastic/high-index plastic lenses made up 44 percent of total prescription sun lens sales and 45 percent of plano sunwear lens sales.
  • Not surprisingly, July/August was rated the highest sunglass sales period for 64 percent of independents. May/June followed with 61 percent rating it as a “high” period for sunglass sales. For comparison, January/February came in only at 4 percent rating it high.
  • Over half of independents say they do participate in Rx programs offered by sunwear companies (53 percent). Eight percent were unsure.
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20/20’s Sunwear MarketPulse Survey 2024 is based on data collected from structured e-mail interviews with 238 independent optical retailers. The samples were derived from the proprietary Jobson Database. All 2024 interviews were conducted in April/May 2024. This study is conducted annually. Trended data is charted wherever possible. All participants were contacted via e-mail invitation and offered an incentive of a chance to win a $200 amazon.com gift card. For more information, contact [email protected] or (212) 274-7164.

–Jennifer Waller, Director of Research & Business Analytics