Canada’s Competition Bureau calls for reduced regulations on online eyewear sales

glasses on laptop

Canada’s Competition Bureau is calling for greater competition between retail and online sales of eyewear products.

According to the Bureau, Canadians spent an estimated $2.1 billion on eyewear in 2017, with prescription eyewear accounting for roughly $1.7 billion.

Where eyeglasses are purchased though can make a huge difference. The Bureau cited CBC Marketplace report from 2012 that found that eyeglasses purchased at brick-and-mortar stores could cost as much as 50 percent more than they do online.

However, the Bureau says that Canadians may be missing out on these lower prices due regulatory requirements limiting how online retailers carry out their operations. Therefore, the Bureau questioned what kind of role self-regulating professional organizations, which are often required to be involved in eyewear sales, need to play overall.

“It is without debate that licensed professionals have an important role to play in the eyewear industry, and that certain regulatory safeguards are needed to serve the public interest,” wrote the Bureau in a new Advocate.

“However, decision-makers should consider whether it is strictly necessary for licensed professionals to be involved in all aspects of the eyewear dispensing process (i.e. preparation, adaptation and delivery), and to what degree. For example, can less restrictive measures be put in place to facilitate online sales, while at the same time, maintaining patient health and safety?”

In conclusion, the Bureau said government and regulators alike should ensure regulations are made based on evidence and out of necessity. “While regulations can address important public health and safety issues, they may also have a direct impact on competition,” the Bureau wrote. “Decision makers are urged to ensure that competition in the eyewear industry is not harmed by overly restrictive rules.”

Image credit: Pixnio — Amanda Mills

Source: Competition Bureau