The obsession with sunwear is stronger than ever as consumers continue to make it their main go to accessory. Eyecare professionals can take advantage and immerse themselves in the sunwear conversation by making this category an essential part of their product mix. 20/20 presents our annual Sunwear MarketPulse Survey 2023 conducted by Jobson Research, surveying independent optical retailers on their sunwear sales performance as well as emerging market trends. Read on and see how the latest market data tells the sunwear story.

–Jennifer Waller, 20/20 Director of Research & Business Analytics


  • Half (50 percent) of respondents said that Rx sunwear is growing for their practice. Fourteen percent were unsure.
  • Adults (age 35 to 44) accounted for the largest percent of Rx sunwear sales (an average of 31 percent) according to those independents surveyed. Forty-seven percent of respondents said that females are buying more Rx sunwear than males. Twenty-three percent said males more than females, and 30 percent said the same for both genders.
  • Of the independents surveyed, 48 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 37 percent agreeing. (Sixteen percent said don’t know). Of the 43 percent that agreed that the lines were blurring, 34 percent think this is helping the sales of both Rx and plano sunglasses. Only 7 percent claim the merging is hurting their sunwear sales.
  • Over half (56 percent) of independents surveyed said they always recommend that their contact lens patients buy sunglasses. However, respondents said only 12 percent of their patients, on average, actually make a sunwear purchase at the time they are fitted for new contacts.
  • On average, respondents said 66 percent of total retail sunwear dollars comes from Rx complete, 21 percent from plano complete, 13 percent from clip-ons and 5 percent from fit-overs.
  • When asked what the greatest differentiating quality independents have over other channels was, superior service takes the top spot with 33 percent, followed by product customization at 28 percent and frames/lens knowledge at 22 percent.
  • On average, independents said polycarbonate lenses made up 47 percent of their total prescription sun lens sales, and 48 percent of plano sunwear lens sales as well. Plastic/high-index plastic lenses made up 46 percent of total prescription sun lens sales and 49 percent of plano sunwear lens sales.
  • Not surprisingly, July/August was rated the highest sunglass sales period for 59 percent of independents. May/June followed with 49 percent rating it as a “high” period for sunglass sales. For comparison, January/February came in only at 6 percent rating it high.
  • Almost half of independents say they do participate in Rx programs offered by sunwear companies (47 percent). Thirteen percent were unsure.


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20/20’s Sunwear MarketPulse Survey 2023 is based on data collected from structured e-mail interviews with 155 independent optical retailers. The samples were derived from the proprietary Jobson Database. All 2023 interviews were conducted in March 2023. 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 gift card. For more information, contact [email protected] or (212) 274-7164.