South African retailer Woolworths is embarking on a new nationwide body shape and sizing survey, which it says is the first to take place in the country.

The survey of women and men is being carried out to ensure that its clothing sizing standards still meet the needs of customers.

"South Africa has one of the most diverse populations in the world," explains Thateng Shimange, head of womenswear at Woolworths.

"The best way for us to determine the best fit for our clothing is to actually measure real people. No survey like this has ever been done before for the South African population, and for us it's another way we can 'listen' to our customers and adapt to meet their needs."

Woolworths has appointed Alvanon to conduct the survey in its stores in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town during February and March 2014. The survey also marks Alvanon's first foray into Africa. 

No personal information - other than gender, age and ethnic group will be collected - ensuring participants of anonymity. 

Participants spend about 15 seconds (fully clothed) in the scanning booth, and afterwards are presented with a printout giving them information about their recommended Woolworths clothing sizes.

"Using the data from the survey, we will be reviewing our fits and sizing across women's wear and men's wear and will be assisting our suppliers in updating our pattern blocks and fit forms, where required," Thateng continues.