Rising obesity boosts UK plus size market

City chic Brisbane, SFGRising obesity levels in young people has boosted the £5 billion UK plus size womenswear market, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The company’s latest report says that retailers are now recognising that 18+ females were underserved. Due to retailer investment in new ranges, wider choice and improved accessibility online, plus size expenditure has been boosted by £800 million since 2012.

The NHS’s Health Survey for England found that 26.8 per cent of females were either obese or morbidly obese in 2015, with obesity among 16 24-year-olds increasing sharply from 12.9 per cent in 2014 to 15.9 per cent in 2015. These trends have prompted non-specialists such as boohoo.com, River Island and Quiz to launch plus size ranges, encouraged by the opportunity to sell online garments in bigger sizes which do not garner sufficient sales to justify space instore.

Victoria Beckham’s clothing collaboration with US retailer Target also offers plus sizes, shining a high profile light on the niche clothing segment.

Kate Ormrod, lead retail analyst at GlobalData, said with improved availability and choice, plus size shoppers are better catered for than ever before.

“The overall investment in ranges has brought them up to par with core womenswear propositions in terms of regular newness and fashionability, and is helping to drive up purchase frequency and therefore spend,” Ormrod said.

She added that with different body types now more socially accepted, youth fashion players must ensure that they are showcasing ranges on plus size models across their editorial content and social media activity, and harnessing the power of plus size bloggers to raise their profile.

“By doing this, retailers will drive customer engagement and remain top of mind amid growing competition,” she said.

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