This Doesn’t Add Up

Y’all, I’m not the best at math, but I know this doesn’t add up. There’s a company called Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., that is ‘a leading independent market research publisher of “off-the-shelf” studies about SERVICE industries since 1979.’ John LaRosa, the company’s Research Director, had some stuff to say about the plus-size market. Let’s take a look!

This little-researched market had a breakout year in 2015, as size acceptance became more popular and retailers finally got serious about serving large persons’ needs for fashionable clothes.

Research Director John LaRosa, ladies and gentlemen.
Research Director John LaRosa, who uses the expression “large persons.”

I’m sorry, what? Because just the other day I went to JC Penney, Macy’s, and Target, looking for something to wear to a wedding I’m going to, and found nothing I could or would wear. JC Penney doesn’t separate out their (very few) plus-sized dresses, so that was like looking for a needle in a straight-sized haystack. Macy’s has rack after rack after rack of straight-sized dresses downstairs, and 2-3 thinly stocked racks tucked away upstairs. And Target? I literally grumbled out loud about the lack of plus options, I was so offended by what I saw—or, rather, didn’t see. I don’t know what world John LaRosa is living in, but it’s not mine.

Let’s look at some other “Major Findings” by Marketdata. (Note that these are direct from the article, so the scare quotes around the terms below are theirs, not mine, and that missing scare quote is also theirs, not mine.)

Marketdata analysts estimate that in 2015, the plus-size market in the U.S. was worth $21.5 billion. Sales are expected to grow by 4.1% annually, reaching just under $26 billion by 2020.

Based on CDC obesity data, the number of potential customers for “plus sized” products and services is at least 54 million Americans.  The number of obese women has nearly doubled during the past 15 years, fueling increased demand for plus size clothing, products and services.

The “average” American women now wears a size 14  (with “plus-sizes, often classified as 14 to 34, accounting for 67 percent of the population). Typically, plus size customers are female, between the ages of 30 – 45, and come from all income levels and occupations.

So, there are a ton (pun intended!) of us “obese women” out there, and 67% of women wear plus sizes, and we’re demanding clothes! And yet maybe two stores in a mall cater to the plus-size market specifically. And stores that have (or make a passing attempt at having) plus-size departments? Well, see my experience above.

I’m so grateful that I have Torrid to shop in, but honestly, if these stats are accurate (and, from existing in the world and having eyesight, I believe they are), then I should be able to shop in way more places than Torrid and Lane Bryant. How does this add up? It doesn’t. Why don’t these companies want some of that $20+ billion? Isn’t making money their bottom line?

I dream of a world where I never write another post that ends like this:


But that day is not today.