Optical sector, a sector that is growing every year

Optical sector-Spain-Dos Aguas-Blog

The optical sector suffered, like many others, a big recession during the generalized economic crisis in 2008 and the years after. However, this is a thing of the past. Currently, it is in a moment of continuous growth and the most evident proof of this is that 2017 ended as the fourth consecutive year of growth.

According to data from the consulting firm GfK, the optics sector closed 2017 with a turnover of 0.5% higher than the previous year, which is 2,080 million euros. This figure gathers the sales of ophthalmic lenses, frames, contact lenses, sunglasses and maintenance products.[1]

Analyzing the demand. How is the Spanish consumer?

According to the report El Observatorio Cetelem Consumo España 2017, regarding optical products, the Spanish consumer is nowadays demanding these products. In fact, “39% of the Spanish respondents have purchased a product related to optics in the last 12 months”.[2]Likewise, in 2017 the Spanish consumer has increased by 48, 72% the expenditure destined for optical products, reaching an average cost of 231 euros.

Regarding the purchase channels, the Spanish buyer shows a more conservative attitude, preferring the physical store to online commerce[3], due to the fact that in Spain the treatment and personal advice of professionals are highly valued.

Foreign Trade

Moving to a more global vision, we now analyze the evolution of the other three main optical markets in the European Union: Italy, France, and Germany. In the four-country comparison, Spain was the second that has grown the most after Germany, a country that has registered an upturn of 3.2% in its turnover. Italy and France, however, have suffered from a negative evolution with falls of 1.4% and 1.6%, respectively by the end of 2017. Particularly striking is the case of France, where the market reflects changes in its legislation that limit the reimbursement to the user in the visual equipment of 150 euros.[4]

On the other hand, the impact on the market of imports and exports that Spain makes in this sector is as important as direct sales within the national territory. The value of imports made in 2017 triples that of exports, which means that the balance of the trade balance in the optical sector is negative. This fact highlights the competition that exists in Spain within this sector, where not only national companies stand out, but also international companies have a vital importance that is increasing every year. In this way, the imports in the year 2017 have grown by 10.18% with respect to the previous year.

Exports optical sector in Spain-Dos Aguas BlogFigure elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting

In terms of imports, the Italian and Chinese markets dominate the optics distribution. Italy is a leading country in the optical industry and China bases its power on an extremely attractive price. As for the exports, if we set aside Italy that leads the ranking by far, the distribution is much more homogeneous.

Imports of optical sector in Spain-Dos Aguas BlogFigure elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting

The growing trend of the market reflects that opportunities will continue increasing in the optical sector in Spain. A very needed industry for every society and that needs to be covered. This is to only way to help people alleviate the visual deficits, which are increasing among the population of Western countries.

Dos Aguas Consulting can contribute with our knowledge of the optical sector in many ways: from the particularities of the market and its regulations to outlining the profile of the Spanish consumer. In our work as a company specialized in advising and supporting international companies that want to invest in Spain, we can help you find clients and make a profitable business in the country. Get in touch with us, our trade advisors will help you!

Methodological note:

Charts made from import and export data of the International Trade Center.


[1] Europa Press (April 13th, 2018) El mercado español de la óptica cerró 2017 con unas ventas de 2.080 millones, un 0,5% más. Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018

[2] El Observatorio Cetelem (2017)El Observatorio Cetelem Consumo España 2017.Sector Óptica/Audiología. Page: 3. Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018

[3] El Observatorio Cetelem (2017)El Observatorio Cetelem Consumo España 2017.Sector Óptica/Audiología. Page: 17. Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018

[4] Gfk (April 12th, 2018) Estudio: El mercado español de la Óptica facturó 2.080 millones de euros en 2017 (press release). Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018