Retailers Wake Up To a Plus-Size Industry Revolution

Retailers Wake Up To a Plus-Size Industry Revolution

Apparel retailers have traditionally given the cold shoulder to plus-sized women, but some are starting to warm up to the idea of catering to this demographic and are starting to dip their toes into the full-figured clothing business.

And it’s no wonder.

Plus-sized women’s clothing, generally defined as a size 14 and up, is a growing, billion dollar business. The segment generated $16.2 billion in sales in 2013, up 7.2% compared to 2012.

Despite this growth and limited competition, many retailers are still shying away from this fashion market, leaving a lot of money on the table with this missed business opportunity.

Less than 15% of brands offer sizes larger than a 12, yet 72% of women wear sizes 12 and above – with size 14 being the U.S. average. Furthermore, 57% of U.S. women wear at least some clothing in sizes 16 and above.

The pervasive stereotypes associated with the notion that larger women don’t want to dress fashionably are unfounded and have resulted in a depressed apparel segment. Women sizes 12 to 26 want what all consumers want: good quality clothing, a fashionable range of options, compelling prices and a contemporary store environment.

So in an era where the overall apparel market is experiencing modest gains at best and retailers are saying they have to find new ways to grow, plus-size apparel should be an irresistible market to try to tap into.

The plus-size consumer accounts for 67% of the apparel-purchasing population and as plus-size apparel offerings become stronger, women will spend more.

For example, after starting to offer and expand its assortment of full-figured apparel in 2011, online apparel retailer, ModCloth, saw business more than triple – with plus-size items having a 25% higher order value than the average order.

However, entering into this market can unfortunately be a tough choice for retailers as this segment isn’t all sunshine and roses.

Whether to carry plus-size clothing comes down to a risk calculation as most retailers can’t afford to fit everyone and plus-size clothing is generally more expensive and complex to manufacture.

The Bottom Line

The plus-size clothing market is and will only continue to be a significant part of the overall apparel market, so catering to plus-size shoppers can provide retailers with a competitive edge – helping to generate interest from a new shopper base and capture a greater share of the plus-sized consumers’ wallet.

So ask yourself if entering this market will be a beneficial growth move. If you need help determining whether this would be a wise business move and worth investing in, Buxton’s customer analytic solutions can tell you exactly what your potential would be if you entered this market, who your best prospective plus-sized customer would look like and where the highest concentrations of these potential customers would be.

If you’re interesting in learning more and exploring this growth avenue, reach out to us. We can help.