Why More Retailers Don’t Carry Plus Size Clothing? Plus Size By The Numbers

Why More Retailers Don’t Carry Plus Size Clothing? Plus Size by the Numbers

In today’s America, the average woman is considered a “plus size” woman. The average American woman has a waist circumference of 38.1 inches and a weight of 168.5 lbs., and she wears a size 16 or 18.  In the US clothing market, anything higher than a size 12 is considered “plus size”.  This sizing standard was set in the 1950’s, and although some women find it helpful to find clothing that fits their body, other women find the system outdated and in need of an overhaul.

Some brands have recently adopted an inclusive sizing platform, including sizes 0 through 32.  Perhaps this is a step in the right direction, or perhaps its just a trend of the moment, but it is making headway in breaking down the stigma attached with shopping for larger sized clothing.  And while some stores have begun to carry sizes above the standard 0-12, once you start hitting size 22 and above, few stores carry those sizes.  This is especially true in the higher end clothing market.  Very few higher end stores carry higher than a size 16.  In fact, although the plus size market spending is double that of regular size spending, plus sizes make up only 0.1% of the luxury fashion market.  Even in the low and mid-level markets, plus size fashion falls woefully short of the demand.

Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Evans

Many retailers cite the cost as a reason for the lagging plus size fashions, but some retailers who have specialized in carrying plus size clothing for years, claim that the increased fabric costs really don’t amount to much when you carry large bulk orders.

Interestingly, the retailers who carry plus size lines both online and in stores have found that the in- store numbers show that most of their sales fall below size 18, while the larger sizes outperform all others online.  There are increasing numbers of online stores for plus sized women, and some box retailers have started making a new commitment to carrying larger sizes.  This is a great start, but almost everyone agrees, there is still a  long way to go in providing for the average plus sized woman.