Dispensing opticians since 2003 - Growth which demands a closer look
Retail trade in optical goods grew rapidly between 2003 and 2013; salaried employment in this sub-sector increased by an average of 3.7% per annum, compared with 1.6% for retail trade as a whole. The increase in the number of retailers has been slightly higher: +4.3% p.a. over the last decade. This trend has been accompanied by a slight decrease in the average number of employees per store and, since 2011, a decrease in turnover per store (in value). Those working in this sector receive salaries which are above average for the retail trade, reflecting a higher level of qualification. Furthermore, prices of corrective optical goods have increased at below the rate of inflation over the past decade. Nonetheless, the trade margins practised in the optical sector remain among the highest in the whole retail sector: around a half of companies have mark-ups of over 62%. Nonetheless, the trend in recent years appears to be less positive: turnover increase has slowed, the rate of profitability has declined and the opening of new retail outlets is slowing down.