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Retailers fall short in serving plus size women, study finds

For all you ladies who feel like clothing is designed to fit anyone but you, you are not alone.

Two thirds of females in a survey out this month classify themselves as wearing "special sized" clothing." One-third of these women say they are "plus size," which also happens to be the highest represented size group among special size women.

Those results come from market research company The NPD Group Inc., which released its Women Special Sizes report last week. The study used a representative sample of females age 13 and older.

"Despite the fact there has been an increase in plus size offerings through some traditionally 'regular sized' brands, the demand for designer brands and styles in larger sizes in still in full swing," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD.

So retailers and designers take note: "Women of all ages and shapes want to enjoy the latest fashions of the season and are willing to spend the money in order to feel comfortable and confident," Cohen said.

Some highlights of the NPD study pertaining to plus size women:

-63 percent find shopping for plus sized clothing more stressful than shopping for regular clothing.

-62 percent have difficulty finding the styles they want.

-56 percent say it's hard to find good quality plus size clothing.

-86 percent want plus size clothing in the same colors as clothing sold for smaller sizes.

-79 percent want the same styles as clothing sold for smaller sizes.

But only 39 percent of plus size women prefer brands that specialize in plus size clothing.

Cohen says retailers and brands looking to grow need to create a comfortable shopping environment tailored to all shapes and sizes.

"There are so many consumers who wear at least one item that is plus size, and yet the market is dramatically underserved," he said.




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