Bureau encourages online competition in eyewear industry
Competition leads to more choice, lower prices and more innovation
July 26, 2018 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau
The Competition Bureau’s latest Advocate, titled “Bringing competition into focus,” takes a look at regulations in the eyewear industry and their potential effect on consumers’ ability to get prescription eyewear online. The Bureau calls on governments and regulators to ensure regulations are based on evidence and strictly necessary to address legitimate public policy concerns.
Currently, Canadians can buy eyewear in a number of ways, such as online, at a retail store, or from an eye care professional. Competition between these different sellers offers many benefits to consumers such as lower prices, more choice, more innovative products, improved convenience and broader accessibility for people in rural communities. However, with different regulations across the country and ongoing litigation that could impact how online retailers operate, the future of Internet buying in Canada is blurry.
While regulations can address important public health and safety issues, they may also have a direct impact on competition. Decision makers are urged to ensure that competition in the eyewear industry is not harmed by overly restrictive rules.
“More and more people are shopping for glasses and contacts online. Now is a key time for decision makers to apply a competition lens to their existing regulations. We encourage them to take steps to ensure regulations are evidence-based and not overly restrictive. This is good for businesses and for consumers.”
Interim Commissioner of Competition
Nearly half of Canadians find online shopping to be more convenient than visiting a brick-and-mortar retail outlet.
In 2016, Internet eyewear retailing saw rapid growth in Canada, particularly for contact lenses.
In 2017, Canadians spent an estimated $2.1 billion on eyewear, with prescription eyewear accounting for roughly $1.7 billion.
Through its advocacy role, the Bureau is able to examine a sector from a competition perspective and identify barriers to competition. Where barriers to competition are identified, the Bureau can make recommendations to regulators or policymakers on how to reduce or remove those barriers to promote competition.
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