You’re reading your favorite petite fashion blog when you see the blogger wearing a fabulous blouse that would fit perfectly in your wardrobe. Even better, she’s posted a coupon code to get it at a nice discount. You click over to the retailer website, ready to purchase that fab blouse…but wait…your size is already sold out!
If you wear a small clothing size, then you’re probably familiar with this scenario. Small-sized clothing sells out fast, and by the time the item hits the sales rack, the best colors and smallest sizes are long gone, having sold out at full price. But have you ever heard the reason why?
A wonderful article over at YouLookFab (thanks go out to Curls and Pearls for tweeting, and Miss Modern Classic for posting) explains why retailers don’t have enough small sizes to go around…a little thing called a “size curve”.
Here are the take-away points from YouLookFab explaining what’s happening to these small sizes.
1. The most bought sizes in the US are sizes 6 to 10. This simply means that women who are sizes 6 to 10 are the ones making the most clothing purchases.
2. Since most shoppers are sizes 6 to 10, it is less risky for retailers to overstock these sizes. Retailers know there are enough women to buy these sizes, and feel more secure that these items will sell. They will buy more of these sizes, because even if they go on sale, there are plenty of women in this size range to take the clothing off the retailer’s hands. It’s also easier to sell extra merchandise in sizes 6 to 10 to discounters like Marshall’s and T.J.Maxx.
3. Sizes smaller and larger than 6 to 10 are risky investments. There are less shoppers in those size ranges, so if retailers buy too many of those sizes, they might get stuck with merchandise they can’t sell, and lose money.
The result is a size curve:
Fashion Buyers are responsible for selecting the items and sizes that sell in a store. They will order in a style from a manufacturer over a very carefully distributed size curve. When they place the order it makes sense to order more of the sizes that are popular, and fewer of the other sizes. So for example, buyers bulk up the order in sizes 6 to 10 because those are the most shopped sizes. That way the store can make the most profit AND offer the most correct size to their customers.
The thing is that they don’t create the size curve to exactly match the popularity of sizes. They order a little less of the unpopular sizes and a little more of the popular sizes.- Angie from YouLookFab
Petite shoppers feel this crunch even more, and here’s why:
1. Special sizes, such as petite sizes, are less shopped than standard sizes. Even though height statistics say roughly 40% of US women are 5’3″ or shorter (via Wikipedia), not all “petite” women are shopping petite sizes. These women either find standard sized clothing fits them just fine, don’t realize they could be getting a better fit with petite sizes, or simply don’t know what good fit is, and wear ill-fitting standard sized clothing because they don’t know any better.
2. Because special sizes are less shopped, less of them are stocked. Just like the smaller sizes, it is more risky for retailers to overstock on special sized items, in the event they get stuck with unsold merchandise.
3. There is less variety stocked in special sizes. Retailers will stock less color choices and style choices in special sizes than they will in standard sizes. Once again, it is more risky to offer a full range of colors and styles when there are not many shoppers buying those sizes in the first place.
So, if retailers are afraid to stock too many small sizes, and are also afraid to stock too many petite sizes, think about how many small-sized petite items retailers will stock…not many, right?
That’s why this XXSP shopper has near anxiety attacks over purchasing my size in time, and often ends up resorting to pay full price.
Does the retail “size curve” effect the way you shop?