How Has COVID 19 Affected the Eyewear Industry?

COVID 19 has now been declared a pandemic by WHO. The virus is spreading at a lightning speed beyond national and international boundaries, affecting lives as it marches without restraint or control. Global trade, SENSEX have been negatively affected with billions lost in halted trade transactions as nations grappled to stymie the tide of Corona through discontinued or limited goods exchange. As the world economy struggles under the fury of this deadly malady, here are a few insights on how the Eyewear Industry is dealing with this situation.

 

The much awaited MIDO Eyewear Show 2020 has been rescheduled from March to July as a preventative measure to avoid mass gatherings from across the world which could fast-track the pace of the disease. MIDO is the largest international show dedicated to the global eyewear sector and draws participation from almost 1200 exhibitors the world over.

Another domino to fall was the Vision Expo East. Vision Expo is the most recent U.S. fashion industry event to be canceled amid rising concerns over COVID-19. Popularly known as VEE among fashion experts, the trade show was initially scheduled as a 4-day event in March in New York City. Ashley Mills, CEO of Vision Council, ascribed the cancellation of the event to the current developments pertaining to coronavirus, and further called the need for a safe environment for everyone involved.

In India the Industry is doing its best to serve its customers. Akash Goyle, Country Manager and MD at Luxottica India, says “Our first priority at this time is the health and safety of our employees and our associates. All of Luxottica’s manufacturing sites are up and running, with utmost care being taken for Employee protection. The outbreak of coronavirus has so far had some limited impact and our production and logistics supply chain is now getting back to normal. Thanks to the flexibility of our supply chain and our stock availability, we are confident to be able to meet the expectations and provide the highest service level to our customers. All our offices and supply chain are taking several precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure utmost safety of our employees, business partners and customers. We are closely monitoring the situation and complying with all advisory issued by the Government of India to contain the spread of the virus”.

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Anup Kumar, Partner at R. Kumar Opticians, says “Staff is taking all the standard precautions from sanitisers to masks to reinforcing stringent personal hygiene while handling goods and customers. We are also offering complimentary services for cleaning eyewear with an alcohol-based solution to all visiting clients. Being a retailer, towards the end of this chain, we are in touch with our suppliers and are monitoring the supply chains. We are hoping that if our major suppliers can manage to showcase and deliver MIDO collections by summer, we can hope to salvage a reasonable amount of business.”

“A sizable percentage of manufacturers of frames and sunglasses of worldwide brands are sourced from China, most factories in China have been closed since January 25th.  Some have recently reopened but are operating at low levels of capacity utilisation due to the shortage of manpower. This situation is going to definitely cause supply issues for short and medium term till control of the coronavirus comes about. The optical market will be affected,” said Ameet Poojara-Partner at Optimed Corporation.

Sanjay Tekchandani-Owner of Vision 2020 has an optimistic view saying “fall in Chinese optical goods will set back the online eyewear market, while raising footfalls at brick and mortar establishments. Pre-empting this situation, Vision 2020 have purchased good quantities of spectacle frames,  sunglasses, contact lenses and optical accessories, so they can service their customers with optimum quality products. So far, in their stores, though they continue to offer consistently high quality products, the volumes(footfalls) have dropped over the past few years. Generally March, April, are non-peak seasons. But May, June, July the NRI coming down for holidays from the Middle-East is a huge market for all. This year, it may not be the case. This is an unprecedented situation for all of us, but surely the organised sector will be less affected than the unorganised sector.”

 Whereas, Shanu Nag, MD of Omni Astra Pvt Ltd states “These are tough times but this too shall pass”

This clearly shows the concerns related to COVID-19 and its far-reaching effects on the global fashion industry including the eyewear industry. Apart from sales concerns, there are other aspects to consider such as supply chain, transportation, and labor that create a domino effect on the eyewear industry. However, the industry is optimistic as this is not a permanent concern and a cure for the disease might be around the corner with a global team of medical professionals working to find a cure. As the dark clouds of the disease fade and the sun shines again, we hope that soon we will all reach out for our favourite sunglasses.

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