Facing up to the challenges posed by plus-sized women’s wear shoppers represents the biggest opportunity for brands and retailers today, according to a new report.

The Women Special Sizes report from market research company NPD finds that two-thirds of women shoppers classify themselves as wearing “special sized” clothing, with one-third classifying themselves as “plus-sized”.

“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 is still in full swing,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD.

“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.”

However, large numbers of plus-sized women find shopping for clothing stressful and have trouble finding the right sizes and quality levels, the report suggests.

“The issues that plus-size women face in store translate into the biggest opportunity for brands and retailers to grow their businesses today,” said Cohen.

“There are so many consumers who wear at least one item that is plus-size, and yet the market is dramatically under-served.”