As women are getting larger so is the market for plus-size clothing, according to a new report.
Verdict Research suggests that a total of £4.9 billion will be spent on fashion items from these ranges in 2011, representing nearly a quarter of all ladies clothes sold in the UK during the year.
The report indicates that sales growth in this market is expected to continue over the next five years, reaching nearly £6 billion by 2015, while the latest Health Survey for England data shows that almost one in four UK adults are obese.
Carly Syme, an analyst at Verdict, said: “Retailers are looking to expand their niche collections such as petites, maternity, and plus size to ensure growth and increase revenue.
“Our research has revealed that it is the plus-size market that offers the biggest opportunities for growth.”
Verdict’s study includes all size 18+ women’s clothing, whether it is sold as part of a core clothing line such as George at Asda, or in a specifically designed range like New Look’s Inspire.
Products comprising the market analysis were tops, trousers, outerwear, knitwear, underwear, skirts and suits.
Syme continued: “While there is a large proportion of the plus-size market that is made up of older shoppers demanding more classic designs, there is also an increasing need for more fashionable plus size items for younger shoppers, who are currently underserved.”
Her views partly reflect those of Mark McMenemy, Senior Director at global professional services firm Alvarez & Marshal, who told Retail Gazette that there is “real growth potential” for this sub sector of the retail industry.
“Britain as a nation is seeing a rapid rise in obesity but there are few national chains with physical stores specialising in outsize clothing,” he explained.
“At present mainstream retailers struggle to cope with the complexity of garment construction and materials and the need for specialist staff and equipment.”
Like Syme, McMenemy believes midmarket retailers will need to do more to attract the younger generation into stores in the coming years, and fashionable plus-size products could be set to play a greater part in this strategy.