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The Big survey

More Than 60% of ECP Businesses Expect Earnings to Fall This Year

Thanks primarily to COVID-19, only about a quarter of owners and managers expect to see any bottom line growth.




IT HAS BEEN a difficult year for eyecare businesses’ bottom lines, as many of you are no doubt well aware—and as INVISION’s Big Survey of more than 270 owners and managers confirms.

Our snapshot of the financial landscape shows that no less than 63 percent of the ECP biz owners and managers responding to the Big Survey expected their earnings to fall to some degree in 2020, with the biggest group—24 percent—expecting the hit to be in the region of 20-25 percent (see first chart below).

big survey 2020-man holding umbrella against corona virus

But if it’s been a bad year, it’s also been a tricky one for simply assessing an eyecare business’s financial condition. Practices that were furloughing staff and applying for government assistance in March were in some cases struggling to cope with pent-up demand in the exam lane and raking in surplus expendable cash in the optical by May. This may go some way to explaining the fact that a fifth of eyecare businesses claimed to be confident they’ll show some growth this year (with 5 percent expecting a “really strong” 2020).

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic was hands down the most significant factor in ECPs’ poor financial performance this year, according to our survey respondents, who gave “lockdown-related orders” an average of 4.5 when asked to rate a number of negative factors on a scale of 1 to 5 (see second chart below). It was not the only burden that eyecare businesses faced, however. Uncertainty associated with widespread and prolonged street protests played a role, and another noteworthy example that has been all but eclipsed by the coronavirus headlines is the changes to tariffs amid the ongoing trade spat between the U.S. and China. A full 63 percent of respondents said tariffs had affected their cost of goods to some degree, with 6 percent saying the effect was significant.

big survey 2020-COVID impact on finances

The 2020 INVISION Big Survey was taken by more than 270 North American eyecare business owners or managers. Look out for the November-December edition of INVISION or visit to read the full results, and even more on how ECPs fared during a weird, weird year.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at


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