MILAN — Like other industries highly dependent on exports, the Italian eyewear sector, the first European and second global exporter of prescription frames and sunglasses, should see exports fall 25 percent in 2020.
This should be reflected in a contraction of its revenues of between 15 and 20 percent.
As of Aug. 31, exports had dropped 31.6 percent to 1.77 billion euros largely impacted by the first lockdown enforced in the early spring across international countries with a record low registered in April when exports dropped 70.7 percent.
Despite a grim outlook, Giovanni Vitaloni, president of Anfao, said he’s looking forward to the 50th edition of Mido to be held IRL June 5 to 7, a few months later than usual. In 2020 the trade show was first postponed and then canceled altogether.
“I strongly believe that trade shows are the engine of our sector allowing us to foster our business,” he said. “The year 2020 has taught us how much business is impacted without an international event such as Mido that we used to take for granted.”
To this end, the association has worked with local institutions to establish “green corridors” to guarantee visitors and exhibitors will be tested upon entering the show space to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
Internationalization is key for the eyewear industry, as exports account for 75 percent of sales. Vitaloni said negotiations with the Italian government have been on top of the association’s mind in recent months. For example, Anfao is asking that the government facilitate access to discounted fees for its associates partaking in international trade shows and that reimbursements are provided when those events are canceled.
Anfao has also laid out plans for an internationalization campaign to be rolled out across 2021 with the support of the Ministry of Economic Development and ICE, the Italian trade agency.
The domestic market did not react well to the pandemic with local expenditure expected to drop 10 percent to 15 percent by the end of 2020. To support domestic sales Vitaloni explained that the association has submitted requests “starting from the premise that the visual wellness has been impacted by deteriorated economic conditions in 2020.”
Accordingly, Anfao is asking the government to offer a 50 euro bonus for the purchase of prescription glasses and contact lenses, while also looking forward to 2021 when the hope is that Italy will offer a higher tax deduction on those purchases, anywhere from 19 percent to 50 percent.