Unfilled demand for more plus-sized clothing, report says
Clothing retailers could make more sales by meeting the needs of heftier or taller women shoppers, according to a report from information company NPD Group.
Canadian sales of plus, petite plus and tall sizes are growing far faster than the women's clothing market in general, but plus-sized customers — a large part of the market — are particularly dissatisfied with their options, according to the Canadian Special Sizes report.
Sales of plus sizes were the fastest growing among all the classes in 2007, despite the "significant levels of dissatisfaction" with the choices, Kaileen Millard-Ruff, director of fashion for NPD, said in a release on Wednesday. "Just imagine if they were satisfied."
Plus sizes were considered to be size 18 or over, women who define themselves as plus-size wearers, and those who shop at plus-size retailers.
Plus-sized sales accounted for $2.1 billion out of a market of $10.8 billion, grew by 20 per cent between 2003 and 2007, and now represent one out of every five purchases, according to the report.
Tall women also complain about a lack of choice, although it's a much smaller market than plus sizes, Millard-Ruff said, adding that "a lot of tall women are going online" to shop.
She said retailers may be unwilling to take a chance with new sizes, and may be reluctant to enter a market where the top 10 plus-size retailers account for 57 cents of every dollar spent. That's much higher than the top 10 retailers of general women's apparel, which account for just 33 per cent of that market.
NPD based its conclusions on a survey sent to 13,000 women ages 18 to 70 in summer 2007. It got 4,392 replies.
More than half of the respondents said they believed they needed a special size, based on their body type.