A marked increase in purchases of plus-size apparel among female Baby Boomers helped lift the category to its strongest sales increase in the last three years.
According to data compiled by The NPD Group, overall sales of plus-size women’s wear in the 12 months ended in April rose 4.7 percent to $17.53 billion, easily eclipsing the 1.7 and 0.3 percent increases registered in the years ended April 2013, when sales totaled $16.74 billion, and April 2012, when the figure hit $16.46 billion.
The performance for the 12 months strongly outpaced the growth in overall apparel and women’s apparel sales, which rose 0.9 and 1 percent, respectively.
Driving the plus-size increase was an 8.7 percent pickup in purchases by women between the ages of 55 and 64, to $4.16 billion from $3.83 billion in the earlier period, allowing that age bracket to repeat its performance from past years as the dominant purchasers of the category.
The magnitude of the increase was surpassed by the one for women in the 65-and-up bracket, who purchased $3.99 billion worth of plus-size apparel during the 12 months, a 9.1 percent rise.
Together, women 55 and up were responsible for $8.15 billion in plus-size apparel purchases, just less than half the market and collectively 8.9 percent higher than in the prior-year calculation.
Millennials aged 18 to 24 bought 23 percent more plus-size apparel than they did in the prior year, for a total of $1.08 billion, and 25- to 34-years-olds’ purchases were up 11.5 percent to $1.98 billion.
The increase for women between 35 and 44 was smaller — up 0.4 percent to $2.52 billion – and those in the 45-to-54 bracket reduced their purchases 7.6 percent to $3.39 billion.
“The plus-sized market segment is seeing light at the end of the tunnel after being hit particularly hard by the recession,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “With that, retailers and designers are now viewing this area as a growth opportunity, and today there are indeed more plus-sized choices in stores.”
With retail metrics slowly improving, vendors and broadlines stores are moving more aggressively to capture the plus-size customer. Among specialty retailers vying for the business, Ascena Retail Group Inc.’s Lane Bryant division’s sales for the nine months ended April 26 rose 5.2 percent to $795.7 million, with comparable sales, including e-commerce, up 5 percent during the period.
NPD said that e-commerce sales of plus sizes rose 31 percent over the two years ended in April, while department stores registered a 7 percent increase during that time span, during which department stores saw their market share in the category rise to roughly the same level as mass merchants, whose share and total sales declined slightly.
Specialty stores continue to hold the largest block of market share in plus sizes although their percentage in the category, unlike their total sales, diminished slightly from the prior year. Together, specialty and department stores and mass merchants hold nearly two-thirds of the dollar share in women’s plus sizes.
National chains gained sales but lost some share while off-price retailers gained both share and sales, NPD said.
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)
Breaking News: @hedislimane joins @celine as its new artistic, creative and image director. One of fashion’s preeminent image-makers and trendsetters, Slimane is to join the LVMH brand on Feb. 1 and unveil his first fashion proposition for men and women next September during Paris Fashion Week. It marks a major homecoming for Slimane, who cemented his reputation – and influenced men’s tailoring for more than a decade – as the designer of Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007. He went on to reinvent and ignite the house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he rechristened Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016 – all the while maintaining a close relationship with the Arnault family, which controls LVMH and Dior. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
“Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion,” Giorgio Armani said when asked what his favorite decade of fashion is. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work.” The influence is clear in @giorgioarmani spring 2018 collection, pictured here, which was full of bright colors and unexpected prints. Read more about which decades designers loved most on WWD.com #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
For Lady Gaga’s only Italian show on her “Joanne World Tour,” the singer wore a range of @versace_official outfits. The standout piece: this custom-made bodysuit inspired by the brand’s spring 2018 collection. #wwdfashion (RG: @ladygaga)
@_camillaruth_ is expanding on the wellness-craze concept with @westbourne – a new NYC restaurant that’s both a healthy-minded café as well as a business that gives back to the community. Marcus works with the Robin Hood foundation to give back to The Door, a non-profit providing youth development services, and also hires employees through The Door. Read our full interview with Marcus on giving back through food on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)