More than one in three (38%) British shoppers battle with garment fit

More than one in three (38%) British shoppers battle with garment fit

The UK clothing retailing market is forecast to grow by 20% over the next five years to reach GBP64bn (US$97bn) in 2020 – yet half of UK women aged 16-44 still struggle to find clothes that fit them well.

The findings, outlined in new research by Mintel, also suggest that, overall, more than one in three (38%) British shoppers battle with garment fit, and almost two in five (38%) are not confident about which clothes best suit their shape or size.

But in a missed opportunity for retailers and brands, over half (55%) say they are willing to spend more on clothes that suit or flatter them.

Whilst many may be struggling with fit, three in four (76%) British shoppers would like to see a better size standardisation across clothing retailers or brands – and a further 63% would like more stores to offer a wider choice of sizes, for example petite or larger sizes.

Indeed, Mintel research finds the highest level of dissatisfaction when shopping for clothes is related to availability of products in a consumer's size, with 7% of those who bought clothing in-store or online in the last year dissatisfied. Proving that age is no advantage to this problem, this rises to one in 10 (9%) of 16-24 year olds.

"There are currently huge variances between retailers, with a size 12 for example fitting differently depending which retailer or brand it is purchased from, meaning customers cannot automatically know whether a garment will fit them without trying it on," notes Tamara Sender, senior fashion analyst at Mintel.

"There is therefore a real need for retailers to more accurately manufacture clothes so there is consistency in sizing across all retailers and brands."

Mintel's report 'Clothing Retailing UK 2015' estimates consumer spending on clothing will reach GBP53.5bn in 2015, a 4% increase from GBP51.5bn in 2014. On top of this, the clothing retailing market is forecast to grow by 20% over the next five years to reach GBP64bn in 2020.

Similarly, online sales of clothing and accessories are predicted to stay strong, as Mintel estimates online spending on clothing and accessories will reach GBP12.4bn in 2015, up 16% from GBP10.7bn in 2014 and accounting for 20% of overall spending in the market.

However, while as many as 65% of Brits currently buy clothes online, 37% returned clothes (rising to 54% of 16-24 year olds), with the biggest reason given as poor fit. Indeed, 43% of consumers who have returned goods cited this claim.

But there is also scope for retailers to do more to help shoppers find the correct fitting clothes.

The survey found 45% of shoppers would be interested in a virtual fitting solution that compares the measurements of an item with a garment they already own. The same number (45%) would be interested in a service, for example a mobile phone app, that matches their measurements with different retailers and brands.

Another 39% of consumers would be interested in trying a digital body measuring service, for instance body scanners or a home webcam.

"In an increasingly competitive market, retailers that look to find solutions for customers shopping both in-store and online will stand out from rivals," Sender says.

Separately, European value fashion retailer C&A has just provided details of the impact that a 10-month overhaul of fit and product development processes has had on top-line growth: 

C&A building brand loyalty through consistent fit