From reading glasses to sunglasses and everything in-between, eyewear can be more than just something to help you see clearer – it can be a reflection of your personality.
As the leader in global ecommerce acceleration, we’re constantly curious about the forces impacting shifts in consumer behavior. So, to celebrate National Eyewear Day, we decided to deep dive into the online sales for eyeglasses, sunglasses, frames, and more to answer a few burning questions:
Key Questions about Online Eyewear Sales
- When do sales spike for different types of eyewear?
- Which types and styles of eyewear see the most online demand?
- Has COVID-19 impacted, positively or negatively, the demand for different types of eyewear?
To answer these questions, our data science team analyzed market demand for a range of eyewear categories and styles on Amazon over the past three years and published some of our key findings.
Topline Data and Insights
- Demand for sunglasses picks up in late spring and peaks in mid-summer, while demand for other types of eyewear remains consistent throughout the year
- Aviator sunglasses saw more online demand than any other style in 2021
- COVID-19 has had a mixed impact on demand for different types of eyewear
- Demand for sunglasses was down in the first months of 2020, but surged in 2021
- Demand for blue light blocking computer glasses surged by 76% in early August 2020
- Necessary items like contact lens care products saw demand rise in the first weeks of the pandemic, while most other types of eyewear experienced a steep drop
- New Year’s Resolutions appear to drive demand for reading glasses and safety goggles and glasses
- Safety goggles and glasses experienced a 115% increase in demand during the first week of January 2022
Let’s dig into the data.
Eyewear Demand Peaks in Summer
To start out, we wanted to see when Americans are shopping for all types of eyewear: eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, safety goggles, and more. So we examined weekly demand for all related categories and items in 2021 and the first few months of 2022.
Demand starts the year slow and picks up quickly in springtime, peaking during the height of summer. It then steadily decreases before plummeting during the holidays.
Seeing how just about everyone wears sunglasses and only a portion of the population uses corrective lenses, it’s safe to assume the above chart is heavily impacted by demand for a new pair of shades during the brightest months of the year.
With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper to examine seasonal demand for different types of eyewear.
Demand for Types of Eyewear
First, here’s a breakdown of which categories in our combined view held the most weight:
Sunglasses and eyewear accessories for both women and men drove far and away the most online demand on Amazon in 2021. From there, it’s a pretty significant drop to the next most popular categories: safety goggles and glasses, computer blue light blocking glasses, and reading glasses.
Now let’s examine some of these major categories to see if seasonal demand differs from one type of eyewear to the next.
Demand for Eyewear – By Category
Let’s start by comparing changes in demand for different types of eyewear:
Sure enough, sunglasses and sunglasses & eyewear accessories for both men and women mirror the combined view trend in the previous section, peaking over the summer.
Computer blue light blocking glasses, however, started January 2021 off with demand at its highest, declining steadily in the spring, and has remained below average throughout all of 2022 so far. This points, perhaps, to a pandemic-related upswing in demand for these types of glasses, something we’ll dig into momentarily.
Contact lens care products saw demand peak in 2021 during the fall, although early 2022 has seen demand rise well above the same time last year.
Safety goggles and glasses received by far the largest peak in demand during any single week in our analysis, more than doubling during the week of January 9th 2022. Demand also surged for the item during the summertime and January of 2021, suggesting that people are just as likely to start a big home renovation project as a New Year’s Resolution as they are during their summer break.
Most Popular Styles of Sunglasses and Eyewear
Before we dive into the past to see how COVID-19 has impacted demand for different types of eyewear, let’s take a quick look to see which types and styles are the most popular these days:
Polarized sunglasses, a term that would encompass many different styles of sunglasses, unsurprisingly saw the most demand in this view. Oakley sunglasses saw the most demand of any individual brand, although Ray Bans weren’t too far behind.
Aviators are the clear style of the moment, with “aviator sunglasses” easily outpacing any other style, and even just “aviators” still edged out wayfarers, which were the next most popular style. (And with Top Gun Maverick cementing its status as one of the first big blockbusters of 2022, we can only assume that demand for Aviators is about to surge to all new heights).
While these styles and brands of sunglasses may experience different levels of demand, here we can see that they see remarkably similar trends.
Most peak over the early summer and see demand steadily decline as summer turns to fall. Interestingly, wayfarers saw demand remain high throughout September and October, as compared to aviators who experience more consistent demand outside of a brief summer spike and another one during Halloween.
Impact of COVID-19 on Demand for Eyewear
It’s clear there are significant seasonal trends when it comes to eyewear, but we wanted to take a look back even further to see if more people working from home and fewer people spending time outdoors and on commutes in early 2020 led to significant changes in demand for different types of eyewear.
Let’s start by examining the weekly demand once more, but this time starting in January 2020, starting with a view of women’s and men’s sunglasses and eyewear accessories.
Demand for sunglasses absolutely cratered in the first weeks of the pandemic as a fresh pair of shades were clearly not at the top of anyone’s shopping list during lockdown.
It rebounded quickly as things began to open back up in early summer, but the summer surge in 2020 was clearly impacted as well. And by taking a monthly view we can look back even further and compare to pre-pandemic demand in 2019:
Interestingly, 2020 demand actually rebounded to slightly above 2019’s levels, while 2021 and 2022 so far have seen demand for sunglasses hit all time highs.
Demand for sunglasses shows us how much Americans were looking to get out and about during different stages of the pandemic, but the more indoor-focused types of eyewear tells a different story.
Computer blue light blocking glasses experienced a short dip in demand in the very first weeks of shutdowns followed by an immediate spike in mid-April. Then, in August and September as it became clear to millions of Americans that working from home and attending school via Zoom meeting would be the new normal, demand surged by over 70%.
After starting 2021 strong again, demand quickly receded in the spring and has remained low as people have returned to the office and the classroom.
The long term view shows us that 2021 actually finished the year with demand below pre-pandemic levels.
As for reading glasses, outside of a brief dip in demand during the first weeks of lockdown, 2020 appeared to be a relatively stronger year overall than 2021, but our monthly look will probably be more helpful here:
A lot of Americans must have set “read more books” as one of their New Year’s Resolutions, as January is always a huge month for reading glasses. This category also appeared to overperform during back-to-school season in 2020, suggesting yet again that the first year of the pandemic had some impact on reading glasses as well.
Demand for contact lens care products spiked in the first weeks of lockdown, increasing by nearly 30% during the week of March 15th. It then fell sharply, likely as a result of people having stocked up in preparation of an uncertain year ahead.
Even after that post panic-shopping dip, 2020 saw demand remain relatively ahead of pre-pandemic levels. 2021, meanwhile, started the year well behind early 2020, only to surge well ahead as things began to reopen and people started spending more time outside.
Finally, our long-term view of safety goggles and glasses reveals that year over year since the pandemic started has seen demand consistently outpace 2019’s monthly levels. Nothing compares, however, to the tremendous surge we highlighted during the first weeks of January 2022. It appears that more Americans than ever decided this was the year all of their big projects were going to get done.
Key Takeaways for Brands
Our data tells an interesting story when it comes to the seasonality of eyewear and the impact of COVID-19. As you’d expect, sunglasses experience the most demand during the late spring and early summer, while other types of eyewear see demand more evenly spread out throughout the year.
The early weeks of the pandemic, meanwhile, saw millions of Americans hold off on buying new sunglasses and other types of eyewear, but by late 2020 demand surged for items like blue screen computer glasses and reading glasses. 2021, meanwhile, saw demand for sunglasses pick up in a big way as Americans headed back outdoors after spending much of the previous year indoors.
Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how seasonality (weather and behavioral) and new behaviors (staying indoors during shutdowns) impact demand for their products on online marketplaces. These trends and insights can help brands better plan promotional periods that sync with interest and demand. Drilling into the demand details like location, gender, and price points provide specific action items for marketing and creative strategy as well.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.