Asda takes on competitors over varifocals

Supermarket optician highlights the cost of varifocals in High Street opticians and introduces a new pricing structure as a result

15 Apr 2015 by Emily McCormick

Supermarket opticians Asda could trigger a price war between High Street opticians as it offers varifocal lenses for the same price as its single prescription versions. 

Asda undertook an independent investigation following the publication of the 2014 Mintel Optical Goods Retailing report earlier this year. It looked at the cost of varifocal prescriptions across the market compared to single vision lenses and described its findings as ‘eye-watering’. As a result, it has introduced a new pricing structure for its varifocal lenses. 

Using data from the Mintel report, which found that nearly three million spectacles wearers over the age of 65 had purchased varifocals, or bifocals, in the past 12 months, Asda estimates that, on average, an add-on cost of £49 for varifocal lenses is introduced. This, the supermarket says, means that pensioners in the UK are paying £144m more than necessary.

Asda said its new pricing policy means that varifocal wearers could purchase spectacles from £40. They could also buy a pair of designer brand spectacles for £70, with no hidden charges, and a second pair for £29.

The price comparison study found that High Street opticians were charging between £175 and £398 for a pair of varifocal spectacles. However, when contacted by OT, Vision Express confirmed that it sells varifocals from “as little as £79.”

Category director of Optical Healthcare at Asda, Linsey Taylor, said: “We have honestly been shocked at how much the optical industry is currently charging its customers for varifocal prescriptions.”


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