Confidence Recedes in May for Independent ECPs, Says Jobson Research’s OBB

By Delia Paunescu
Assistant Editor

NEW YORK— According to the latest edition of Jobson Optical Research’s Optical Business Barometer (OBB), the outlook of independent ECPs toward business dipped again in May to reach its lowest rating of any calendar month in 2011. The report indicates, however, that independents’ views towards business is progressing better so far in 2011 compared to the same five-month period in 2010.

The OBB is a monthly survey of a representative sample of independent optical retailers (single locations and groups of no more than three locations) designed to gauge the optical business trends of eyecare professionals at independent optical locations. Conducted online by Jobson Optical Research, the OBB is designed to measure attitudes of independent eyecare professionals about the current business climate and outlook. The OBB is based on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is “very negative”, 3 is “neutral” and 5 is “very positive.”

The OBB shows that so far this year, the monthly rating has been better or even with each of the five months of 2010. While respondents’ attitudes toward business in March 2011 had grown to 3.9 and declined to 3.6 in April 2011, May’s 2011 results at 3.4 are the same as they were in the May last year.

Having fallen steadily since August 2010’s previous high point, the barometer rose 0.3 points in December 2010 (still the largest jump all year) to match the initial score in January 2010 of 3.6. The March 2011 score at 3.9 was the highest since the OBB began tracking in January 2010. The January and February 2011 scores were also set at an Index of 3.6. Comparatively, November 2010’s score was 3.3.

In addition, all four U.S. Census regions had Index scores decline for April 2011 and again in May 2011. "Regionally, the Midwest and West showed the sharpest declines in May over previous periods," the OBB stated.

Similarly, among the ratings for eyeglasses, contact lenses and eye exams, which measure independents’ outlooks of sales of these categories, contact lenses were the only sector to remain steady in May 2011 when compared to April 2011. According to the report, “All other components declined for the same period.”

The National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB), Index of Small Business Optimism for May 2011 also decreased to 90.9, down 0.3 points from April’s score of 91.2.

The findings of the OBB are also compared to those in the Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board. For May, the index stands at 60.8, down 5.2 from a revised score of 66.0 for April.

For more information, or to learn more about detailed information featured in the complete report, contact Jennifer Zupnick at (212) 274-7164.