As Eyewear Becomes More Fashion Focused, Sunglass Sales are Picking Up

As Eyewear Becomes More Fashion Focused, Sunglass Sales are Picking Up

Sunglasses: are they the next lipstick? Historically, economists have observed that in times of economic strife — such as the recent U.S. Recession — sales of makeup go up rather than down, as consumers search for relatively inexpensive ways to boost their morale and update their look.

Over the past few years, a new, related trend has emerged to accompany this: the rising sale of sunglasses. While women’s apparel experienced a 4% overall sale increase from 2012 to 2013, sunglasses revenue rose 9%, more than double the pace. About a billion pairs of sunglasses are now sold each year.

There are, according to industry experts, a few reasons this trend is taking off. One reason is that eyewear has become more fashion-focused. Instead of just buying a pair of shades at the drugstore, people are searching for upscale designs that complement their overall look. Retailers like Warby Parker and the rise of the Google Glass have helped to keep glasses fashion on consumers’ minds.

And again, the Recession plays a part in this. Many consumers want high-end brands, but can’t afford a $3,000 handbag. Sunglasses represent a happy medium where they can access the brands they love, without paying the higher retail price. Gucci handbags, for example, typically cost more than $1,000, while their sunglasses frequently sell for $300. For the price-savvy consumer, it’s comparatively a bargain.

“We know that [the] average American owns lots of shoes and handbags,” says Kristen McCabe, VP of the Sunglass Hut North America. “They’re starting to think about eyewear in the same way, which is really important.”

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