Export slowdown expected

Good first half-year for eyewear industry in Italy

Figures for the eyewear industry in Italy in the first half of the year confirm the trend analysed by ANFAO for the first quarter, according to the Italian Optical Products Manufacturers Association, Milan, and continued to show double-digit growth in value. Given the economic outlook, exports are expected to slow down by the end of the year.

After coping with the 2022 cost increase, which has been partially reduced for the time being, eyewear manufacturers in Italy now face rising interest rates, which made access to credit more difficult.


At a general level, global uncertainty continues to be felt, ANFAO said. Growth in the Italian economy is slowing: while services dependent on tourism are holding up well, the same is not true for industry, and the construction sector is declining. Investment has therefore slowed down, contributing to consumption uncertainty and a gradual decline in merchandise exports. According to international analysts, the crisis in Germany is likely to be short-lived and the US economy should continue to grow, while in China there is a risk of deflation.

Italy: Exports in the first half of 2023

In the first half of 2023, exports of the sector continued their double-digit trend compared to the first half of 2022: +15.7% to €2.84 billion. Exports of spectacle frames performed very well (+19.0%), according to ANFAO, and total exports of sunglasses maintained the momentum of 2022 (+14.3%).

Italien Brillen Exporte ANFAO H1 2023
ANFAO: Eyewear Exports Italy H1 2023 (Source: ANFAO)

In terms of geographical areas, all exports had continued to increase compared to the same period in 2022: Europe +16.2%, Americas +7.1%, Asia +39.4%.

An analysis of exports by individual country shows that:

In the US, which has always been the benchmark for the sector, total exports of spectacle frames and sunglasses increased by +5.1% compared to the first half of 2022, with a gradual slowdown in exports of sunglasses (+0.5%) compared to exports of spectacle frames (+23.2%), which continue to show strong growth.

In the main European countries, Italian exports continued to perform well compared to the same period in 2022: France +17.2%, Germany +12.5%, Spain +20.6%, UK +2.6%.

Italy: Domestic market in the first half of 2023

The brilliant development on the international markets was accompanied by subdued growth on the Italian market, which, however, recovered significantly compared to the first period after the pandemic.

Consumption in the specialist optical retail sector, as monitored by GfK, performed well compared to the same period in 2022 (+4.3% for the months of January to June).

A more detailed analysis of this figure shows that, in addition to the significant growth in sales of sunglasses (+4.5% in the first half of the year), the prescription glasses segment, which accounts for 70% of sales in the ophthalmic optics business, is split between frames (+5.9%) and lenses (4.3%). The trend of higher performance of value-added products continued, especially for lenses. The sales figures also confirm these trends.


“The figures for the first half of the year confirm the positive trend of the sector. However, the complex economic scenario and the continuous increase in interest rates force a cautious outlook. At this stage, a slowdown in exports is to be expected in the short term, taking into account the signs on the market, such as the slowdown in US exports in recent months, even if they remain at high levels,” said ANFAO President Giovanni Vitaloni. Growth in value terms at the end of the year is estimated at 8 to 10 %.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, global growth forecasts have been revised downwards from 3.5 % in 2022 to 3.0 % in 2023.

World Economic Outlook July 2023 ANFAO
World Economic Outlook Juli 2023: Prognose nach Region

The most worrying aspect, according to ANFAO, is the growth rate in advanced economies, which remains the main market for all major sectors and is not expected to exceed 1.5% in 2023.

The European region (which alone accounts for about 50 % of the sector’s exports), which is also particularly important for the eyewear sector, is expected to have the lowest growth rate of all in 2023: 0.9 %, according to the latest forecasts.


Source: ANFAO


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