BUSINESS: Research + Stats February Optical Business Barometer Index Shows Dip in Independents’ Outlook By Staff Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:00 PM NEW YORK—The Optical Business Barometer (OBB), a monthly gauge of general business outlook attitudes among independent ECPs as surveyed by Jobson Research, showed a slight decrease for February 2013 rating with its latest index measuring a 3.7 for February as compared to a 3.8 measured in January 2013. The current February rating also reflects a decrease compared to that of February 2012, which stood at 3.9, but stands above February ratings from 2011 and 2010, which stood at 3.6 and 3.5, respectively. The average ratings for the period January through February 2013 stood at 3.8, yielding a lower index than the same period in 2012, which stood at 3.9. The period of January through February 2011 stood at 3.6. February confidence ratings among independent ECPs for the upcoming six months in overall optical retail business dipped from 3.8 in January 2013 to 3.7 in February 2013. From January to February, the rating for eyeglasses fell from a 3.8 to 3.7; the rating for eye exams decreased from 3.8 to 3.7 while the rating for contact lenses decreased from 3.6 to 3.5. Furthermore, the average index scores for eyeglasses and exams both declined slightly for the period of January through February 2013, with both scores falling to a 3.7 from a 3.8 in the same period 2012. The 3.7 rating, however, is higher than ratings of the same periods in 2011, which stood at 3.5 for eyeglasses and 3.6 for exams. The average index score for contact lenses in the period January through February 2013 held steady as the rating for the same period in 2012, which was 3.6. The score is higher than average ratings of the same period in 2011, which stood at 3.4 The February 2013 overall optical index toward business for the Northeast census region stands at 3.7, decreasing from a 4.0 rating in January. The overall index rating for the South census region stands at 3.9, also a decrease from 4.0 in January. The Midwest census region stands at 3.7, remaining consistent with January’s rating, and the West census region’s index decreased to a 3.5 from a 3.7 in January. The OBB is a monthly survey of a representative sample of independent optical retailers (single locations or groups of no more than three locations) designed to gauge the trends of eyecare professionals at these locations. The survey is conducted online by Jobson Optical Research to measure attitudes of independent ECPs about the current business climate and outlook based on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is "very negative" and 5 is "very positive," with 3 representing "neutral." OBB ratings are further compared to findings from the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey. The latest survey findings revealed an increase from a revised 58.4 index in January 2013 to 69.6 index in February 2013. The Consumer Confidence Index reached its highest point in January 2000 with a rating of 144.7 and its lowest point in February 2009 with a rating of 25.3. For a full report complete with charted progress, visit www.jobsonresearch.com/obb.