The health branch with increases of 70%, sales crisis and a hindered industry


Along with pharmacies, which in January sold 45.8% less than the previous year, there is another neighborhood commerce linked to health that was not included in the SME Retail Sales Index of the Argentine Confederation of Medium Enterprises (CAME) and it is also obvious that it is In crisis Of customers: girl.

It’s just that the glasses increased 65% in the last two months, and this week 5% more. The year-on-year decline in sales in these stores is around 40%.

From the sector they focus on Clarion is the price of not seeing well in Argentina.

“There are 16,000 SMEs that fell out of the system in the country. They didn’t closewent to informality, without controls. Those who were registered responsible went to the monotax. In the optics industry, which requires a license, this is very serious. is glasses or sunglasses“You don’t know what you’re buying,” he tells Clarion Fabián Castillo, president of the Federation of Commerce and Industry of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (Fecoba).

Due to the sharp price increases, people go to opticians but look for glasses that cover social works. Photo Guillermo Rodríguez Adami

As he is also vice president of CAME, he details that the optical chamber is already meeting with Fecoba to demand that the Government, being a link in the essential health activityThis item is given the same priority as medical supplies.

Both industries are dollarized and given the obstacles to imports “which are opening up very little by little,” says Castillo, “there are excessive increases that have a direct impact on the low sales of glasses.”

Anatomy of a fall

“Some of them fit me well. Dolce and Gabbana. What I didn’t see coming was the price: $330,000. With the glasses, I ordered the cheapest ones that existed (refers to the blue lightthat neutralize the light from the screens)”, says Victoria Pereyra to Clarion.

“I didn’t buy them in a shopping mall. It is a Ramos Mejía optician. And it shows that they are not from the latest seasons. I didn’t know these values ​​were managed. I took them, in 3 interest-free installments, because other models, national or those of lower quality, did not go below $100 thousand,” he continues.

The formation of the price of an imported eyeglass (prescription or sunglasses) and that of a nationally manufactured one, go along different paths. And the second is much more complex.

You can only get sunglasses from Argentine clothing brands, there are few models from international brands, at impossible prices. Photo Guillermo Rodríguez Adami

“TAll raw materials are imported. Something similar happens in ophthalmic glass: the supplies are imported and then it is cut here. So, all this is reflected in the price of the product, based on the value of the dollar,” they tell Clarion from the Argentine Chamber of Optics (Cadeo).

The difference in the impact of sales is more marked in the interior of the country and in the Province of Buenos Aires, although it is also seen closely in the City.

From January to November 2023, crystals They will increase between 10% and 15% each month. But in mid-December the increase was 50%. As to frames, the increase was 14% monthly, until in December it rose to 50%, and on January 15 they rose another 14%. With the crystals they were the same: they rose 70% in three months.

“The entry of merchandise was very complex. We suffer many shortages. All those price increases in the industry, plus the fact that joint ventures also influence costs of the sector, have an impact on sales. Customers postpone the purchase and those who have to get glasses, no matter what, invest much less,” they add from the Chamber.

From Cadeo they insist that prescription and sunglasses be dispensed by opticians. Photo Guillermo Rodríguez Adami

If we talk about visual fashion in imported glasses, in the country we have a trail of several seasons in Ray-Ban, Prada, Armani (in all its lines, even in Exchange) and Dolce & Gabbana. Many fewer brands and models entered.

From Cadeo they point to Luxottica, the largest eyeglasses company in the world, with more than 80% of the brands, as the “most delayed” in deliveries to Argentina.

“It is the one that caused the most problems for opticians last year. It wasn’t their issue, it was our problem. Due to the blockage in imports, the merchandise did not arrive, or (due to price increases) they canceled your order.” The situation, “little by little – they say from the sector – is stabilizing.”

There is another controversial point in optics. The criticized coverage of social and prepaid works. And on this topic there are two interesting realities.

While customers complain that the frames free (intermediate shots generally include one a year, just like a pair of contact lenses) “very poor quality son” or “there are no current models”, the opticians consulted by Clarion they explain that More people are turning, “even if it is”, to those options.

“Of course it is not convenient for us. The return of value for that sale is totally deferred by the financiers. But, at least, people come into the premises,” he tells Clarion an optician from Barracas. Many opticians have a sign warning “PAMI is not attended to”.

The quality of the frames offered by social works is one of the points most questioned by clients. Photo Guillermo Rodríguez Adami

They are “standard” frames, says the owner of twelve opticians in CABA and the GBA, and clarifies that he prefers to call them that rather than ‘give me the most basic ones’as imitation of customers who ask to be shown the row of the cheapest ones.

“It depends on the neighborhood, those but models often make the difference between someone entering the optician or not,” he agrees. Speaking of glass: “Most airplanes cover normal glass (of $28 thousand to $60 thousand), a few anti-reflective ones (from $65,800).”

Among the varieties for prescription and sunglasses, there are also photochromic lenses, gradient polarized lenses, mirrored lenses, and anti-fog lenses. On average, crizal, against UV rays, start at $107,700. The most complex lenses, such as multifocals, do not go below $200,000.

This area also does not turn a blind eye to an aspect that stalks them: illegal online sales. From Cadeo they insist that prescription glasses and sunglasses “are only dispensed by opticians.”

From Mercado Libre they responded that “illegality cannot be proven” and from Facebook Marketplace “they did not respond to the complaint.” They demand that the same control exists on the Internet as when wanting to buy or sell a dental or medical supply.

Anatomy of a price

There is polycarbonate (PC) and propionate cellulose (CP), or the ultra-flexible and resistant Tr90, which is almost not used here. But in Argentina, most designer glasses or, as they call them in the slang, “dress” glasses are made of acetate and metal.

In addition to glass, the frame industry’s two main materials faced problems due to obstacles to imports.

Sergio León, owner of Ziltec, is one of the few importers of optical supplies from Argentina, he even sells them to other factories, and he also manufactures glasses for different national brands, a family legacy that has been in the country for 50 years.

“In the Argentine Industry, very good metal profiles are used; we import them from Italy and Germany. Then you have different components (hinges, screws, lenses) that do come from China. In addition to acetate, there are also nickel silver, steel, and titanium profiles, of better quality and more expensive,” he explains to Clarion.

Between 50% and 60% of the value of the product depends on the dollarized raw material. Photo Guillermo Rodríguez Adami

In this chain, between 50% and 60% of the value of the product depends on the dollarized raw material. The increases, given, depend on the restrictions.

“We have been suffering from it for a long time. These are conditions that close the doors to everyone. It is understandable if you have a country where dollars are not going to magically appear. We are moving towards a trend of liberalizing imports, but, in the meantime, You have to find the provider that will finance you for 120 days. It’s not like health supplies, it’s worse. It is a total uncertainty”León marks.

Since there were few suppliers, if one could import at the official dollar, the rest stayed within that range, “because we wanted to sell, to be competitive.” Then, he explains, the transitions began.

“There was the one who sold you the raw material at the intermediate dollar between cash and official. The cost began to increase. More restrictions were placed on the industry and people were making payments as best they could. There comes a time when you switch to the blue dollar. If not, you will run out of raw materials and the factory will melt down.”

To avoid this stoppage, until mid-2023 some had to improvise. They got “old” acetate plates, of good quality, Italian, but they did not have the latest fashionable colors. “Later it became more difficult to obtain raw materials and Today I can say that it is very difficult” says Leon.

Another issue is smuggling. “It is the scourge of many industries and I don’t hear any politicians talk about it. Bad or bad, The price forms us. A skinny guy who gets a contact, who makes him pass the acetate, how do you compete against that?”

When glasses are damaged, they should be replaced. And ophthalmologists are the only ones authorized to prescribe them. Photo Guillermo Rodríguez Adami

By delivery courier, in small amounts, in this area you can bring everything from glass to hinges. From China, 90%, Vietnam or India. There were problems there too.

“First it was up to $3,000, they restricted it to $1,000. Until the merchandise arrived and only then could you make the payment. Now they’re back at 3,000, and…’we’ll see,’” the importer concludes.

The average cost of a national industry frame, depending on the color of the acetate (there are some for 60 dollars per kilo and others for 6 dollars), is between 10 and 15 dollars, a wholesale price.

From there, wholesalers raise it to 20 or 25 dollars, for advertising, the case, the cloth and all the brand’s marketing. And once the glasses are on the optician’s shelf, the value is recharged between 2.5 and three times.

Fewer glasses, more risk for visual health

When the eye is not able to achieve perfect focus, it has a refractive error. A disorder of focus. To see from afar, like the myopia; to see up close, like the presbyopia; or at different distances, such as farsightedness or the astigmatism.

There are also eye diseases, which cause alterations in vision. The most frequent: waterfalls and the glaucoma.

“We can refocus our visual system with different types of prescription glasses. There are also gradual filters (in the lenses). If there are no visual difficulties, an annual check-up will be enough. If you experience changes, the consultation has to be as soon as possible,” explains a Clarion Beatriz Arteaga, specialist in the ophthalmology service of the Italian Hospital.

When glasses are damaged, they should be replaced. And ophthalmologists are the only ones authorized to prescribe them.

It is not advisable to buy disposable ones (those that are already graduated, which are sold in pharmacies and airports). The materials are of dubious quality, the crystals usually have aberrations that alter the perception of the image. Optical centering cannot be done in a generic way. “It must be calculated according to the shape of the face and the distance of the pupils,” he describes. Hence the importance of optics.

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