Optician Stores In UAE Increase 22 Percent In 3 years

An increasing number of new optical outlets opening in the UAE is driving a competitive landscape

The number of optician stores counted in the UAE Universe Census stands at 945 in 2017, giving an increase of +22 percent compared to the previous study run in 2014.

Looking at the total store composition across the UAE, 54 percent are defined as Chains (stores that are part of a group with more than 5 shops), while Independents account for the remaining 46 percent. However, this composition varies by Emirates: in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, for example, chains account for 60-70 percent of all stores, while in Sharjah the Independent stores are in the majority, standing at 68 percent.

The study found that one third of the shops visited are located in malls, confirming the growing importance of this type of location. This is especially true in Dubai, where up to 50 percent of optician stores are located in malls, compared to Sharjah, where the shop composition is more traditional and only 15 percent of optician stores are in malls.   

Looking at the average size of stores, close to 10 percent are bigger than 50 square meters, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi where there is a higher concentration of malls and chain outlets. In Sharjah, the average store size stands at 11-30 square meters, as this region has the highest concentration of small sized shops, where the commercial area does not exceed 10 square meters.

Frames and sunglasses brand handling

The GfK study covers over 300+ brands of Eyewear in the market, of which around 15 are Exclusive brands that cross the AED 2000 average price range.GFK

Eyewear (covering Sunglasses and Spectacle Frames) is present in 96 percent of the stores across the country, but with the majority of these focused in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Sunglasses are the most widely distributed of all optical products, with a presence in 99 percent of the optical outlets in the country, followed by Spectacle Frames.

Ray Ban is the most popular brand among both Sunglasses and Frames: In Sunglasses, Ray Ban is present in over 80 percent of the stores and has a 39 percent higher distribution than that of its close competitors. In Spectacle Frames, Ray Ban is present in over 75 percent of the stores and has a 52 percent higher distribution than that of its closest competitor.

Among the Exclusive brands, Cartier is the most widely distributed overall. We can say that 1 outlet out of 10 handles Cartier Sunglass or Cartier Spectacle Frames.

Increasing demand for contact lenses and beauty contact lenses

Prescription Contact Lenses are now sold in 88 percent of the optical outlets, an increase of 13 percent compared to 2014. Of these stores, about 3 percent are located in malls.  Compare this to Colored Contact Lenses, which are sold in over 90 percent of the optical outlets across UAE (up 16 percent compared to 2014) – but with the number of mall-located outlets that sell beauty contact lenses increasing by 6 percent. This interest in beauty contact lenses is confirmed in the GfK Point of Sales market estimation, which notes a 6 percent increase by value in the demand for Beauty Correction (RX) Colored Contact Lenses. The demand for colored contact lenses is concentrated in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which hold more than 60 percent of the total number outlets selling beauty contact lenses in the UAE.    

On average, there are about three brands of Colored Contact Lenses handled per store across the UAE. This rises to nearly six to seven brands per store in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates, making the competition for the manufacturer’s much greater within these regions.


-GfK’s Universe Census shows clear developments in the UAE Optics market over the last three years.

-There has been a 22 percent increase in the number of optical outlets, of which more than 50 percent are classed as Chains.

– Eyewear remains the most common category of Optics and is now available in around 96 percent of the stores across the country, with most of its outlets concentrated in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi regions. This trend is seen in other Optical categories, such as Prescription Contact Lenses and Beauty Contact Lenses where more than 60 percent of outlets are in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates.

-The number of outlets selling Contact lenses have shown a notable increase in comparison to 2014.

– It is also worth observing that there is a significantly higher number of brands handled in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi regions when compared to the other emirates.

-Colored Contact Lenses, especially the RX models, are also gaining popularity in these region.

-Majority of the Optics business comes from Dubai and Abu Dhabi were exclusive players are more in demand.

With all of the above factors in mind, there is an indication that the market is going to remain dynamic, with increasing levels of competition for manufacturers within the stores.

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