A CBS News report recently re-broadcast on “60 Minutes” tries to answer the question, “Why are glasses so expensive?” According to the report, one Italian company – Luxottica – monopolizes nearly all of the market for eyewear in the U.S.
In the “60 Minutes” story, Luxottica CEO Andrea Guerra says that “at least half a billion people worldwide are wearing our glasses now.”
The company owns both LensCrafters and Pearle Vision along with the two top premium sunglasses brands in the world – Oakley and Ray Ban. They also own the largest sunglasses retailer in the world, Sunglass Hut. Luxottica runs Target Optical and Sears Optical, too.
If you’ve purchased eyeglasses recently, you’ve probably noticed that they normally cost at least $300 without insurance picking up some of the tab.
According to the report, Luxottica has just two main competitors – Costco and Walmart (including, presumably, Sam’s Club, which also has optical centers).
Most frames at Costco and Walmart cost less than $100 – Walmart even has some frames costing around $10 or $20.
While Costco is a warehouse membership club, some states require Costco to sell optical products and services to non-members. If you find out that your local Costco doesn’t allow non-member eyewear purchases, you should be able to inquire at the customer service desk about browsing the optical selection before deciding whether to buy a membership. Keep in mind that Costco only accepts American Express and cash for payment.
Many online optical retailers also offer great deals on eyeglasses, including Coastal.com, where my family has purchased eyeglasses and sunglasses.
Read more of my posts related to saving money on eyeglasses here.
How About You?
Where do you buy eyeglasses for your family? Do you feel like you’re paying too much for them?