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Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear

Lila Margalit
February 27, 2024
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear

With Q4 2023 under our belts, we dove into the data to check in with leading eyewear brands Warby Parker and America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses – both of which have expanded their brick-and-mortar footprints in recent years. How did they fare in the final months of 2023? And what does their performance bode for the future of offline eyewear sales this year?

Plenty to See Here

Warby Parker, the digitally-native darling that burst onto the scene in 2010 as an online-only retailer, opened its first physical store in 2013 and now operates some 250 venues across 38 states and the District of Columbia. And the trendy eyewear brand’s visits continue to grow alongside its expanding store fleet, with chain-wide year-over-year (YoY) foot traffic increases ranging from 16.6% to 37.0%. Warby Parker’s continued offline flourishing – despite the chain’s online origins – highlights the continued importance of physical stores for the glasses-buying experience.

National Vision’s America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses – the discount eyewear chain that features more than 900 locations nationwide – has also been on a growth trajectory. Over the past several months, the chain saw consistent YoY visit increases, partly driven by its expanding physical presence. And in Q3 2023, the brand also reported a rise in comparable store sales – showcasing healthy demand for its offerings.

What is the secret to the success of these very different chains? To explore some of the factors driving traffic to Warby Parker and America’s Best, we segmented the audiences of their trade areas with demographic data from STI’s PopStats and psychographics from’s PersonaLive – and the results were striking. 

Warby Parker Broadens its Lens

Over the past four years, the median household income (HHI) of Warby Parker’s potential market – i.e. the census block groups (CBGs) from which the chain draws its customers, weighted to reflect each one’s population size – has decreased. This indicates that as Warby Parker has expanded its fleet, it has opened stores in areas that are slightly less affluent than Warby Parker’s legacy markets – although the median HHI in these newer markets also stands significantly above the nationwide median of $69.5K. 

But over the same period, the median HHI of the brand’s captured market continued to climb. (A chain’s captured market is derived by weighting the CBGs in its trade area according to the share of visitors from each CBG – thus mirroring the characteristics of the chain’s actual visitor base). The increase in captured market median HHI over time indicates that Warby Parker has been successful at reaching well-to-do audiences even within its newer, more economically diverse markets. 

America’s Best Sets its Sights on Price-Conscious Consumers

Unlike Warby Parker, America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses serves a lower-HHI demographic. The median household income of the chain’s captured market in Q4 2023 was $66.2K –  4.7% below the nationwide median of $69.5K. And looking at America’s Best’s three largest regional markets – Texas, Florida, and California – shows that the chain’s captured market median HHI in each of these states is also lower than the relevant statewide baseline.

But while the chain’s visitor median HHI trends seem consistent across regions, diving deeper into the data suggests that the chain does attract different types of shoppers in different areas.  Nationwide, the share of singles and individuals from large households in America’s Best’s captured market is just slightly above nationwide baselines. But in California, the share of large households in America’s Best’s captured market is 21.0% – significantly higher than the statewide baseline of 16.5%, while the share of singles falls below the Golden State’s baseline of 23.2%.

Key Takeaways

Digital try-on and easy returns have made online glasses shopping a viable option for many consumers. But the continued offline success of Warby Parker and America’s Best shows that there’s still plenty of demand for brick-and-mortar eyewear stores – discount and higher-end alike. What lies in store for the offline eyewear space in 2024?

Follow to find out.

This blog includes data from Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection.

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