From top: TRAILING POINT from Oakley; HELM 50/50 from Spy Optic
Photographed by Ned Matura

The numbers tell the story with 20/20’s Sunwear MarketPulse Survey 2020. Conducted by Jobson Research, we surveyed over 250 independent eyecare professionals on their sunwear sales performance and emerging market trends. Take a look at the following data to see what ECPs are saying about sunwear.

–Jennifer Waller, 20/20 Research Director  

  • Sixty-three percent of respondents said that Rx sunwear is growing for their practice. Mature adults (ages 45 to 54) accounted for the largest percentage of Rx sunwear sales (an average of 31 percent) according to those independents surveyed. Just over half (51 percent) of respondents said that females are buying more Rx sunwear than males. Eighteen percent said males more than females, and 30 percent said the same for both genders.
  • Of the independents surveyed, 61 percent said consumers are more knowledgeable about sunwear than they were five years ago.
  • An equal amount of respondents (46 percent) agreed and disagreed with the statement that they feel the lines between fashion-oriented sunwear and sports-oriented sunwear are blurring (8 percent said don’t know). Of the 46 percent who agreed that the lines were blurring, 45 percent think this is helping the sales of both Rx and plano sunglasses. Only 7 percent claim the merging is hurting their sunwear sales.
  • More than 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 fitted for new contacts.
  • On average, respondents said 64 percent of total retail sunwear comes from Rx complete, 22 percent from plano complete, 12 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 36 percent, followed by product customization at 24 percent and then frames/lens knowledge at 22 percent.
  • On average, independents said polycarbonate lenses made up 47 percent of their total prescription sun lens sales and 46 percent of plano sun lens sales. Plastic/high-index plastic lenses made up 47 percent of total prescription sun lens sales and 51 percent of plano sun lens sales.
  • Not surprisingly, July/August was rated the highest sunglass sales period for 72 percent of independents. May/June followed with 52 percent rating it as a “high” period for sunglass sales. For comparison, January/February came in only at 5 percent rating it high.
  • Half of independents say they do participate in Rx programs offered by sunwear companies (50 percent). Nine percent were unsure.


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20/20’s Sunwear MarketPulse Survey 2020 is based on data collected from structured e-mail interviews with 251 independent optical retailers. The samples were derived from the proprietary Jobson Database. All 2020 interviews were conducted in November 2019. Data is presented from a retailer or practitioner’s perspective and may reflect seasonal market and thus behavioral fluctuations. This study was also conducted in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. 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.

Jennifer Waller, 20/20 Research Director