Sales in the US plus-size and big-and-tall clothing market are expected to balloon by nearly 41% over the next five years as the country's obesity rate continues to grow, according to a new report.

To cater for this demand, there are also opportunities to upscale plus-size/big & tall clothing and to cater to the neglected girls' plus-size teen and tween market says the report on 'Plus-Size and Big and Tall Clothing in the US,' from market research publisher Packaged Facts.

Plus-size sales, which accounted for approximately 40% of all US women's/girls' clothing sales in 2006, grew 41% between 2001 and 2006, from $33.3bn to $47.1bn. The market is expected to gain an additional 37%, or $17.5bn, for the 2006-2012 period, ending at just under $65bn.

The big and tall market, which made up a full half of all 2006 men's and boys' clothing sales, grew 40% for the 2001-2006 period and is expected to stretch its $28.8bn market to $42.4, an increase of 47%, by 2012.

The report credits previous market growth to the number of fashion houses and retailers getting more involved in the market and to the comfort and convenience that online shopping offers extremely heavy individuals.

"We have learned that online purchasing is extremely lucrative for this market. Big people seem to prefer to buy their clothing online where the offerings, not only in terms of sizes available but also fashionable selections, are often far superior to what they find in brick-and-mortar venues," notes Tatjana Meerman, the managing editor of Packaged Facts.

"However, the advent of digital measuring kiosks could reverse this trend as big folks start to use these custom-tailoring tools."