Shoppers Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Feb 08, 2005

By George Anderson

It’s obvious that many clothing retailers did not get the memo that consumers come in all shapes and sizes. How else could you explain what took them so long to put items on
the rack that fit shoppers from tall to short, from thin to obese and all the physical dimensions in between?

Well, the memo may have been late in being received, but it does appear that some, such as Gap Inc., have gotten it.

The company’s Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic businesses are now selling petite and plus sizes. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, “Old Navy has been selling
some plus sizes since 2000 and petite sizes started showing up in Banana Republic stores two years ago.”

Gap Inc. announced it would open three Banana Republic Petite stores this month and nearly triple the number of Old Navy stores selling plus-size women’s clothing.

Sales of petite and plus-size clothing have been strong. According to NPD Group, plus-size sales were up 5.5 percent last year while petite size dollar sales increased 3.7 percent.
Total clothing sales were up three percent.

A survey of 43,000 women by NPD found that 40 percent had purchased a plus size garment at some point in their lives while eight percent wore petite plus sizes.

“It’s a bigger market than people realize,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD Group’s industry analyst. “Retailers are beginning to realize that, to grow, they need to expand their product

Specialty chains are not the only ones that have followed the trend. According to the LA Times report, discounters, including Wal-Mart and Target, have expanded size offerings,
particularly on the plus-side of the consumer market.

Moderator’s Comment: Do petite and plus-size only stores have a competitive advantage over those that integrate these sizes into a general selection
of clothing, such as Kohl’s, Target, etc.?

This from the LA Times piece: “The average American woman in her 20s was almost 29 pounds heavier in 2002 than in 1960 — and women between the
ages of 40 and 49 were about 26 pounds heavier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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1 Comment on "Shoppers Come in All Shapes and Sizes"

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Jan Owens
Jan Owens
17 years 3 months ago

It is good to see some retailers getting with the program, and disappointing to see those who are moving in the opposite direction. I am not a large size myself, but some upscale department stores (Saks; Neiman’s) have been getting rid of their plus-size sections. Now it is less convenient to have a day of shopping with my plus-size sister! The sales clerk explains that there is still plus-size on the stores’ internet sites, but that is hardly a substitute for the selection and ability to try on a wide range of clothing (which believe me — we do). Since she likes nicer quality clothes than are often found at Kohl’s, etc., it’s shopping at specialty stores in major cities for her!


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