Italian Eyewear Expects Full Recovery to Pre-pandemic Levels in 2021
ANFAO ( Associazione Nazionale Fabbricanti Articoli Ottici) – the Italian National Association of Optical Goods Manufacturers – reports encouraging results from the first half of 2021. The ANFAO data has raised the confidence of Italian eyewear players for the year and expect a complete return to 2019 levels as early as 2021 year-end.
Key data from the report indicate:
- optical frames for exports and ophthalmic lenses in the domestic market are leading the recovery.
- The main export markets for Italian eyewear are all showing revival. For some of these, eyewear sales have already returned to pre-covid levels.
2021 is likely to be crucial for the recovery for global economies, also due to the massive influx of Covid vaccines.
Regarding the impact of COVID, ANFAO indicates that vaccines have played a key role in Italy to spur the resumption of business as usual. Confidence among households has taken a positive turn while spending levels have also risen. Investments, production and exports, especially in the manufacturing sector, have shown fast reaction times and are on their way to a strong recovery.
Nonetheless, ANFAO notes that there are still some critical factors that could undermine this general recovery, starting with the substantial uncertainty instilled by variants of the virus and by the course of the pandemic and vaccination campaigns.
Italian eyewear is also following the same trajectory, with a recovery that appears to be exceeding forecasts for early 2021.
“2020 was an extremely challenging year for the sector and for our entire ANFAO System – both for the Association and for our industry-leading trade fair: MIDO,” stated President Giovanni Vitaloni. “We had anticipated that 2021 would be a somewhat subdued transition year, as we waited to see a recovery of pre-Covid values only in 2022. The first half year’s data, from both domestic consumption and above all from exports, have instead allowed us to adjust our forecasts for the better, to the point of believing we might just reach 2019 levels by the end of this year.
Even at the trade fairs that are finally popping up again on the markets: take for example, DaTE or SILMO, held just a few days ago, where there were clear signs of recovery and a strong desire to start back anew. From this standpoint, I am viewing the next MIDO with great optimism. Even though there is still an atmosphere of having to coexist with the pandemic, this trade fair truly offers an invaluable opportunity for relaunch.”
Exports, which makes up around 90% of the sector’s production were up over 52% against the same period in 2020, and only 4 percentage points below 2019 levels.
This acceleration was more markedly observed in the frames segment, whose exports in the January-June 2021 period surpassed the levels of the same period in 2019.
Less enthusiastic were the exports of sunglasses, which recovered nicely over 2020, but which still remained negative compared to 2019 (-6.7%).
Encouraging data come from the monthly export trends for the first half of 2021 that were actually very similar to those from 2019 and even exceeded those levels in April and June.
However, by far the most interesting and encouraging analysis for Italian eyewear is by geographical region and country.
Exports recovered nicely in all geographical areas compared to 2020.
The most significant figure, however, was the result in value achieved compared to the same period in 2019 for exports to Europe and America, which together claim well over 80% of the sector’s total exports:
- exports to Europe +55.6%
- exports to Americas -4%.
2021 FORECAST Revised Upwards
Based on the first half year’s results, ANFAO has revised its forecasts for 2021 upwards. If the trends were to remain constant, the sector would close the year at a slightly higher value (between 0.5% and 1%) than in 2019, both for exports and for production.
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