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UK plus-size market to surge as more young shoppers seek larger sizes

Some 20% of all womenswear spending will be on plus-size ranges this year, representing a major opportunity in a challenging clothing market, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Plus-size expenditure has been boosted by £800m since 2012, driven by more launches from fashion brands, wider overall choice and improved accessibility online, the report suggests.

With plus-size shoppers now expecting new looks to drop in-store as frequently as they do for smaller sizes, their fashion expectations have risen, as has their willingness to shop more and spend more, it said.

It claims the market is being driven by rising obesity levels with more retailers recognising that women of all ages sized 18 and over have previously been under-served by the fashion sector.

GlobalData cited figures from the NHS (National Health Service) Health Survey for England that showed 26.8% of females in the UK were either obese or morbidly obese in 2015. It also said obesity among younger consumers, specifically the 16-24 year-old group, increased sharply from 12.9% in 2014 to 15.9% in 2015.

Kate Ormrod, lead retail analyst at the research firm, 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.”

But Ormord also said that retailers need to make sure they engage closely with the plus-size customer and reflect her priorities, especially those targeting younger shoppers.

She added: “With different body types now more socially accepted and, indeed, celebrated, 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.”

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