(Filed Under wholesale Plus Size News). The economy has been struggling the past few years, but the surest way to look for a turnaround is to keep a watchful eye on consumers — and sources say growth or opportunity for growth in niche markets, including the plus-size sector, is a good indication that a sluggish retail sales may be a thing of the past.
A decrease in sales means apparel companies start cutting back on offering niche market products in stores, including plus-size or petite products, to focus on sectors that do better in recessionary times, such as accessories.
However, numbers for the last quarter indicate that sales for women’s plus-size apparel are up 1 percent, while total sales of women’s apparel grew 3 percent, according to the NPD Group Blog. According to NPD Group Blog author Marshal Cohen, “this tells us that things are looking better for the women’s apparel market, but are not quite there yet for plus size.”
Yet, an increase in sales means that the opportunity for the plus-size market to grow is available now. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7 percent of American adults are obese. However, only 14 percent of the women’s apparel market is geared toward plus-size women, Cohen says.
According to a survey from online retailer ModCloth, more U.S. women report wearing a size 16 dress than those who wear sizes 0 and 2 combined. 57 percent of respondents reported wearing a size 16 or larger, while 50 percent admitting to buying both standard and plus sizes in clothing.
ModCloth recently dramatically expanded its plus-size collection — but the store only functions as an e-tailer. Stores like Gap, Old Navy, J. Crew and H&M have plus sizes available online, but they can be impossible to find in stores, with many brick-and-mortar locations refusing to stock sizes larger than 12.
As the retail market continues to rebound and retailers look to grow in the wake of increased sales, should think about expanding niche and underserved markets. After all, Cohen says, “the plus-size business tends to be a great indicator for the economy.”
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