Ms. Grace Tai
Hong Kong Optical Manufacturers Association
In year 2020, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy has experienced an array of disruptions. The Hong Kong optical exports figures were inevitably affected. In January August 2020, Hong Kong’s total exports of spectacles, lenses and frames contracted by 28% year on year to HK$9.8 billion. During the same period, exports to the EU and the US, the two largest markets sharing almost 50% of total exports, fell by more than 30% year on year, while exports to mainland China, the third largest export destination, rose by 4% in January August 2020.
Frames/mountings, and spectacles/goggles, which together accounted for 75% of the total exports, contracted by 29% and 40% respectively in the first eight months of 2020. On the other hand, lenses and parts for frames/mountings saw a 5% growth and a 3% slide respectively in the same period.
Looking back on the past year, Hong Kong eyewear manufacturers experienced import tariff disputes caused by Sino-US trade frictions, and orders slump from Europe and the US due to the epidemic lockdown. But the industry could deal with it calmly and strive to seek opportunities from the crisis. For example, when the global supply and demand situation were disrupted by the epidemic, some of the Hong Kong eyewear exporters successfully seized the opportunity to expand their original brand business (OBM).
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for the retail sector as well. Some local optical retail brands launched e commerce sites as a response to the Covid 19 crisis. As people spend more time at home complying with containment measures, customers are becoming accustomed to shopping for spectacles and lenses online. Technologies such as 3D facial scanning and online vision tests help the development of this field. Some local designer brands are leveraging online channels to sell and connect with their local and overseas customers.
Entering 2021, we are still facing many uncertainties and challenges onward. But according to the data provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Asian economies will lead the global economic recovery after the COVID-19 epidemic. As the epidemic forces people to work online at home or use electronic media for entertainment, demand for electronic, household and optical products will be increased. Asia is the main supply region for the export of these manufactured products. With the changes in consumption patterns, Asian manufacturers are expected to benefit from this. In the same time, the mainland market is likely to drive growth in the aftermath of the pandemic. A recent domestic retail survey in the United States showed that 38% of American consumers surveyed had economic concerns and planned to reduce shopping spending during the holiday season. The average household expenditure dropped by 7% year-on-year. Thus, the research organization “eMarketer” reported that China’s retail market may be larger than the US in the coming quarters. Therefore, our manufacturers must adapt to market changes and look for business opportunities in response to demand.
Last but not least, I wish you all healthy and prosperous.