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Shopping for Plus Size Teens and Women's Clothing - US - November 2011

Due to the staggering levels of overweight and obese Americans, there is a significant amount of the population requiring sizes larger than what is typically considered standard. As a result, there is strong demand for plus size clothing. However, it is still considered a niche market in the U.S. as overweight Americans are less likely than average to spend, and spend at lower levels on clothing. As more consumers become aware of the health risks associated with being overweight or obese, there is a movement to encourage Americans to shift away from this state of being toward a healthier lifestyle. But, a decrease in the number of overweight people in the U.S. is likely to be a very long term trend, and it's doubtful that it will negatively impact this market in the near term.

This report closely examines the variety of factors impacting the plus size teens and women’s’ clothing sector, most notably the prevalence of overweight and obese women in the U.S.

Some of the key issues covered in this report include:

  • How obesity rates in the U.S. are driving demand and sales for this category
  • How anti-obesity efforts may have a long-term negative impact on the market
  • Changes in consumer confidence and its link to apparel purchases
  • How plus size retailers and manufacturers are implementing new technology to offer a better fit and additional styles
  • An overview of the retail landscape for plus size clothing and consumers’ preferences for different channels
  • New retail concepts/brands entering the plus size market
  • Social media presence and initiatives among retailers
  • Purchasers plus size clothing, retailers shopped and amount spent
  • Reasons for not buying plus size clothing
  • Attitudes toward shopping for plus size clothing
  • Teens attitudes toward plus size clothing
  • How race and Hispanic origin impact shopping behavior and attitudes toward plus size clothing

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Advertising creative
            • Consumer survey data
              • Abbreviations and terms
                • Abbreviations
                  • Terms
                  • Executive Summary

                      • Market factors
                        • High percentage of overweight girls, women in the U.S. drives demand for plus size clothing
                          • Figure 1: Prevalence of obesity among U.S. women aged 20 and older by race/Hispanic origin for selected years 1988-94 through 2007-08
                          • Figure 2: Prevalence of obesity among U.S. adolescents aged 12-19, selected years 1971-74 through 2007-08
                        • Extremes of embracing and opposing the plus size lifestyle exist, creating opportunities and challenges for the market
                          • Retail channels
                            • Many options for plus size shoppers
                              • The consumer
                                • Amount spent on plus size clothing
                                  • Attitudes toward shopping for plus size clothing
                                    • Figure 3: Attitudes toward retailers’ selection of plus size clothing, August 2011
                                    • Figure 4: Attitudes toward shopping and spending on plus sized women’s clothing, August 2011
                                    • Figure 5: Importance of key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, August 2011
                                  • Teens’ attitudes toward plus size clothing
                                    • Figure 6: Teen girls attitudes toward shopping for plus size clothing, August 2011
                                • Insights and Opportunities

                                  • Clothing rental service can appeal to shoppers with fluctuating sizes
                                    • Personal shopping and in-home fittings can help ease shopping anxiety
                                      • Create excitement around plus size clothing through flash sales, designer exclusives
                                      • Inspire Insights

                                          • Inspire Trend: Experience is All
                                            • Inspire Trend: Why Buy
                                            • Market Drivers

                                              • Key points
                                                • High percentage of overweight women in the U.S. drives sales of plus size clothing
                                                  • Figure 7: Prevalence of being overweight, obese, or extremely obese, among adults aged 20 or older, 1988-2008
                                                  • Figure 8: Prevalence of obesity among U.S. women ages 20 and over, by race/Hispanic origin, for selected years 1988-94 through 2007-08
                                                  • Figure 9: Prevalence of obesity among U.S. adolescents aged 12-19, selected years 1971-74 through 2007-08
                                                  • Figure 10: Prevalence of obesity among U.S. adolescent girls aged 12-19, by race/Hispanic origin, selected years 1988-94 through 2007-08
                                                • Aging population and obesity
                                                  • Figure 11: Rate of adult obesity, by age, 2010
                                                  • Figure 12: U.S. female population, by age, 2005-15
                                                • Americans embracing plus size lifestyle
                                                  • Focus on fitness to alleviate obesity epidemic
                                                  • Competitive Context

                                                    • Key points
                                                      • Anti-obesity movement may lead to decreased demand for plus size clothing
                                                        • Low consumer confidence may lead to reduced spending
                                                          • Figure 13: University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment, January 2007-September 2011
                                                      • Retail Overview

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Mass merchandisers
                                                            • Walmart
                                                              • Target
                                                                • Department stores
                                                                  • JCPenney
                                                                    • Kohl’s
                                                                      • Macy’s
                                                                        • Specialty retailers
                                                                          • Lane Bryant
                                                                            • Avenue
                                                                              • Torrid
                                                                                • Forever 21
                                                                                  • Online retailers
                                                                                    • Redcats USA
                                                                                      • Other online retailers
                                                                                        • New and notable plus size retail concepts
                                                                                          • Eloquii
                                                                                            • The Queen Line
                                                                                            • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                                              • Plus size retailers use technology, different fabrics for better fit and style
                                                                                                • Full Figured Fashion Week brings attention to plus size industry
                                                                                                • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                    • Brand and merchandising strategies
                                                                                                      • Lane Bryant
                                                                                                        • Torrid
                                                                                                          • Redcats USA
                                                                                                            • TV advertising
                                                                                                              • Lane Bryant
                                                                                                                • Figure 14: Lane Bryant, Throw the world a curve, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                • Figure 15: Lane Bryant, Technology Just Got Sexy, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                              • One Stop Plus
                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Onestopplus.com, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                              • Online initiatives
                                                                                                                • Social media presence
                                                                                                                  • Figure 17: Profiled companies and brands and social media reach, October 12, 2011
                                                                                                                • Other marketing activity
                                                                                                                • Plus Size Clothing Purchases

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Older women more likely than younger women to buy plus size clothing for themselves
                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Plus size clothing purchases, for self or others, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                    • Purchase incidence higher among lower-household-income shoppers
                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Plus size clothing purchases, for self or others, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                  • Reasons for Not Buying Plus Size Clothing

                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                      • Older shoppers more likely to have postponed clothing purchases in last 12 months
                                                                                                                        • Figure 20: Reasons for not buying plus size clothing, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                      • Women with higher household income less likely to wear plus size clothing; lower household incomes cause consumers to postpone purchases
                                                                                                                        • Figure 21: Reasons for not buying plus size clothing, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                      • Higher-educated consumers less likely to wear plus size clothing
                                                                                                                        • Figure 22: Reasons for not buying plus size clothing, by education, August 2011
                                                                                                                    • Retailers Shopped for Plus Size Clothing

                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                        • Women have similar shopping patterns when buying for themselves, others
                                                                                                                          • Figure 23: Retailers shopped for plus sized women’s clothing, in store vs. online for self and others, August 2011
                                                                                                                        • Younger shoppers visit specialty stores; older shoppers prefer mass merchandisers and department stores
                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Retailers shopped in store for plus sized women’s clothing, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                        • Higher-income shoppers prefer department stores
                                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Retailers shopped in store for plus sized women’s clothing, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                        • Married women more likely to shop at mass merchandisers, department stores
                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Retailers shopped in store for plus sized women’s clothing, by marital status, August 2011
                                                                                                                        • Plus size shoppers not likely to shop online
                                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Retailers shopped online for plus sized women’s clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                      • Spend on Plus Size Clothing

                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                          • Most women spent less than $100 on plus size clothing in last 12 months
                                                                                                                            • Figure 28: Amount spent on plus size women’s clothing, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                          • Incremental spend increases with higher household incomes
                                                                                                                            • Figure 29: Amount spent on plus size women’s clothing, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                          • Married women likely to spend more money than unmarried women
                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Amount spent on plus size women’s clothing, by marital status, August 2011
                                                                                                                          • Those who spend more shop at specialty stores
                                                                                                                            • Figure 31: Retailers shopped for plus sized women’s clothing, by amount spent on plus size clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                        • Attitudes Toward Retailers’ Selections of Plus Size Clothing

                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                            • Half of shoppers agree that stores have an adequate selection of clothing in their size
                                                                                                                              • Figure 32: Attitudes toward retailers’ selection of plus size clothing, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                            • Lower-income shoppers satisfied with stores’ selections
                                                                                                                              • Figure 33: Attitudes toward retailers’ selection of plus size clothing, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                            • Similar attitudes regardless of marital status
                                                                                                                              • Figure 34: Attitudes toward retailers’ selection of plus size clothing, by marital status, August 2011
                                                                                                                            • Shoppers split on whether retailers have an adequate or poor selection of plus size clothing
                                                                                                                              • Figure 35: Retailers shopped for plus sized women’s clothing, by attitudes toward plus size clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                          • Attitudes Toward Shopping and Spending on Plus Size Clothing

                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                              • Women shop at same retailers, but seek other options
                                                                                                                                • Figure 36: Attitudes toward shopping and spending on plus sized women’s clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                              • Younger women newest entrants to plus size category
                                                                                                                                • Figure 37: Attitudes toward shopping and spending on plus sized women’s clothing, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                              • Little differences in attitudes across various household incomes
                                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Attitudes toward shopping and spending on plus sized women’s clothing, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                              • Women with children in the household more likely to recently enter plus size category
                                                                                                                                • Figure 39: Attitudes toward shopping and spending on plus sized women’s clothing, by presence of children in household, August 2011
                                                                                                                              • Women who spend more likely to visit same retailers, spend more for better fit
                                                                                                                                • Figure 40: Attitudes toward shopping and spending on plus sized women’s clothing, by amount spent on plus size clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                            • Importance of Key Factors When Shopping for Plus Size Clothing

                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                • Comfort, quality, style, and price important when shopping for plus size clothing
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Importance of key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                                • Younger women brand and image conscious
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 42: Importance of key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                                • Women with higher household incomes less concerned about price, focused on brand name
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 43: Importance of key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                                • Shopping destination varies based on shoppers’ priorities
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 44: Retailers shopped for plus size clothing by important key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, August 2011 (part 1)
                                                                                                                                • Fitting into a smaller size is a priority for women, regardless of typical retailer choices
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Retailers shopped for plus size clothing by important key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, August 2011 (part 2)
                                                                                                                              • Perceptions of Retailers’ Selection of Plus Sized Clothing

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • Younger shoppers more likely to cite a greater number of retailers offering a good selection of plus size clothing
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Retailers considered having a good selection of clothing size 14 or larger, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                                  • Married plus sized shoppers slightly more likely to agree that retailers offer good selection
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Retailers considered having a good selection of clothing size 14 or larger, by marital status, August 2011
                                                                                                                                  • Younger women more likely to visit a variety of retailers if better selection was offered
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Retailers would shop more often if there was a better selection of clothing size 14 or larger, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                                  • Higher-income shoppers would visit department stores; lower-income shoppers less likely to visit specialty stores
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Retailers would shop more often if there was a better selection of clothing size 14 or larger, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                                • Teens’ Attitudes Toward Plus Size Clothing

                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                    • Teens more likely than women to shop at Forever 21, Old Navy
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Retailers shopped by teens for plus sized clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Few differences in retailers preferred among teenagers who wear various sizes
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 51: Retailers shopped in store by teens for plus sized clothing, by size shopped, August 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Teenage girls not likely to purchase clothing online
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 52: Retailers shopped on line by teens for plus sized clothing, by size shopped, August 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Nearly two thirds of teenage girls have recently started wearing plus size clothing
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 53: Teen girls: normally buy sizes 14+ or have recently started buying 14+, August 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Price is a priority for teens, who also seek new places to shop
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Teen girls’ attitudes toward shopping for plus size clothing, August 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Plus size teens less likely to buy or borrow special occasion clothes
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Teen girls’ attitudes to buying and borrowing clothes, August 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Friends, magazines most influential among teens’ clothing purchases
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Teen girl clothing purchase influencers, by age, August 2011
                                                                                                                                  • Impact of Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                      • Black, Hispanic women more likely to purchase plus size clothing than other groups
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 57: Plus size clothing purchases, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2011
                                                                                                                                      • No difference in lack of purchase among Hispanics and non-Hispanics
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 58: Reasons for not buying plus size clothing by Hispanic origin, August 2011
                                                                                                                                      • Walmart is top destination regardless of race/ethnic group
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 59: Retailers shopped for plus sized women’s clothing, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2011
                                                                                                                                      • Blacks likely to spend the least on clothing
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 60: Amount spent on plus size clothing by race/Hispanic origin, August 2011
                                                                                                                                      • White women, Hispanic women dissatisfied with selection of plus size clothing
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 61: Attitudes toward plus size clothing by race/Hispanic origin, August 2011
                                                                                                                                      • Hispanic women newest entrants to category; white women will spend more for better fit
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 62: Attitudes toward plus size clothing, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Custom Consumer Groups—High and Low Spenders

                                                                                                                                        • Low Spenders
                                                                                                                                          • Demographics
                                                                                                                                            • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                              • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                • High Spenders
                                                                                                                                                  • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                    • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                      • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                        • Plus sized high and low spender group characteristics
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 63: Plus size spending custom groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 64: Plus size clothing purchases, for self or others, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 65: Person purchased plus size clothing for, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 66: Retailers shopped in store for plus sized women’s clothing, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 67: Retailers shopped online for plus sized women’s clothing, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 68: Amount spent on plus size women’s clothing, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 69: Attitudes toward retailers’ selection of plus size clothing, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 70: Attitudes toward shopping and spending on plus sized women’s clothing, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 71: Importance of key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011 (Part 1)
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 72: Importance of key factors when shopping for plus sized clothing, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011 (Part 2)
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 73: Evaluation of retail outlets, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011 (part 1)
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 74: Evaluation of retail outlets, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011 (part 2)
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 75: Evaluation of retail outlets, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011 (part 3)
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 76: Evaluation of retail outlets, by plus sized high and low spender groups, August 2011 (part 4)
                                                                                                                                                        • Plus sized high and low spender group demographics
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 77: Plus sized high and low spender groups, by age group, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 78: Plus sized high and low spender groups, by household income, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 79: Plus sized high and low spender groups, by race, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 80: Plus sized high and low spender groups, by Hispanic origin, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix—Other Useful Tables

                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 81: Plus size clothing purchases, by marital/relationship status, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 82: Plus size clothing purchases, by household size, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 83: Plus size clothing purchases, by region, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 84: Plus size clothing purchases, by urban area, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 85: Plus size clothing purchases, by parents and presence of children in household, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 86: Plus size clothing purchases for others, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 87: Reasons for not buying plus size clothing, by marital status, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 88: Reasons for not buying plus size clothing, by urban area, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 89: Reasons for not buying plus size clothing by parent and presence of children in household, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 90: Retailers shopped in store for plus sized women’s clothing, by household size, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 91: Retailers shopped in store for plus sized women’s clothing, by education, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 92: Retailers shopped in store for plus sized women’s clothing, by urban area, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 93: Amount spent on plus size clothing, by household size, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 94: Amount spent on plus size clothing, by education, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 95: Amount spent on plus size clothing, by employment, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 96: Amount spent on plus size clothing, by urban area, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 97: Attitudes toward plus size clothing, by urban area, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 98: Attitudes toward plus size clothing, by marital status, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 99: Attitudes toward plus size clothing, by region, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 100: Retailers considered having a good selection of clothing size 14 or larger, by urban area, August 2011
                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix—Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                        Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                        • Abercrombie & Fitch Co
                                                                                                                                                        • Amazon North America
                                                                                                                                                        • American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)
                                                                                                                                                        • American Apparel Producers Network
                                                                                                                                                        • American Apparel, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • American Medical Association (AMA)
                                                                                                                                                        • Ann Taylor Loft
                                                                                                                                                        • AnnTaylor Inc
                                                                                                                                                        • Apparel Search Company
                                                                                                                                                        • Banana Republic
                                                                                                                                                        • Cacique, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • CBS Corporation
                                                                                                                                                        • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
                                                                                                                                                        • Charming Shoppes Inc
                                                                                                                                                        • Cherokee Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • Converse, Inc
                                                                                                                                                        • Costco Wholesale Corporation
                                                                                                                                                        • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • Forever 21 Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • FOX Broadcasting Company
                                                                                                                                                        • Gap (USA)
                                                                                                                                                        • Grandstyle.com
                                                                                                                                                        • H&M Hennes & Mauritz
                                                                                                                                                        • Hot Topic, Inc
                                                                                                                                                        • HSN-U.S.
                                                                                                                                                        • International Council of Shopping Centres
                                                                                                                                                        • J C Penney Company, Inc
                                                                                                                                                        • Kering
                                                                                                                                                        • Kmart Corporation
                                                                                                                                                        • Kohl's Corporation
                                                                                                                                                        • Lane Bryant stores
                                                                                                                                                        • Levi Strauss
                                                                                                                                                        • Liz Claiborne Inc
                                                                                                                                                        • Macy's, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • Mango Europe
                                                                                                                                                        • Missoni S.p.A
                                                                                                                                                        • Mossimo, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • National Retail Federation (NRF)
                                                                                                                                                        • Netflix, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • Nordstrom
                                                                                                                                                        • Old Navy
                                                                                                                                                        • Redcats USA
                                                                                                                                                        • Sears Holdings Corporation
                                                                                                                                                        • Sephora
                                                                                                                                                        • Spanx Inc [Spanx by Sara Blakeley]
                                                                                                                                                        • Target Corporation
                                                                                                                                                        • Torrid
                                                                                                                                                        • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                        • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                                                                                                                                        • U.S. Bureau of the Census
                                                                                                                                                        • University of Michigan, The
                                                                                                                                                        • Vera Wang
                                                                                                                                                        • Victoria's Secret
                                                                                                                                                        • Walmart Stores (USA)
                                                                                                                                                        • Zappos.com Inc.

                                                                                                                                                        Shopping for Plus Size Teens and Women's Clothing - US - November 2011

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