Study Shows Plus-Size Dissatisfaction

NPD report indicates that two-thirds of women wear special sizes and one in five large sizes.

Larger women have big problems with their options for plus-size clothing.

A study by The NPD Group revealed that a majority of women who classified themselves as plus-size customers find their quest for clothing more stressful than shopping for regular-size apparel and have difficulty finding the styles and quality they seek in their wardrobes.

Nearly 7,500 women participated in the NPD survey, just over two-thirds of whom (64.8 percent) indicating they qualify as “special-size” customers. Nearly a third of the special-size group, 32 percent, and more than one in five of the total sample, 20.7 percent, described themselves as plus-size customers.

Among the plus-size group, numbering 1,555, 63 percent agreed that shopping for plus-size clothing is “more stressful” than shopping for clothing in regular sizes and nearly as many — 62 percent — said they had trouble finding the styles they sought in plus sizes. A smaller majority of 56 percent agreed that it was difficult to find plus-size apparel with quality comparable to that of regular-size apparel.

“Plus-size women think differently than regular-size women about clothing, and their attitudes reflect that difference,” said Marshall Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst. “In order to be successful in this category, retailers and brands need to create a comfortable shopping environment tailored to a variety of shapes and sizes.”

According to the data, these customers aren’t necessarily seeking brands that are specifically associated with their size. Less than four in 10 — 39 percent — prefer to purchase brands associated with plus sizes. However, there is a strong consensus — 86 and 79 percent, respectively — that believes that plus-size clothing should be available in the same colors and in the same styles as apparel offered to relatively smaller women.

“The issues that plus-size women face in-store translate into the biggest opportunity for brands and retailers to grow their businesses today,” Cohen said. “There are so many consumers who wear at least one item that is plus size, and yet the market is dramatically underserved.”

The survey was administered to females over the age of 12 between June 4 and June 14. Women were classified as regular-size if they wore regular or missy sizes in four different classifications — tops, bottoms, bras and panties.

Plus sizes generally start at a size 14 for dresses and blouses.