British women are shunning thong-style undergarments in favour of fuller maxi pants, according to the latest research from Mintel Group.

The research revealed that British women's spending on thongs has dropped 14 per cent since 2003 to about £89 - 23 per cent of the pants market value - down from about 28 per cent two years ago.

Maxi pants sales, on the other hand, have boomed 36 per cent to just over £100m this year, with 'boy shorts' and 'french knicker' styles both selling well.

Maxi pants account for the biggest share of the women's pants market at 26 per cent, compared to 20 per cent in 2003.

Shape control pant sales are also selling well, increasing 15 per cent over the past two years, as women look to get a handle on unwanted sagging without going under the cosmetic surgeon's knife.

Mintel consumer analyst James McCoy said: "The popularity of trousers was largely responsible for the dominance of he thong, which originally had the practical purpose of avoiding a visible panty line.

"But there has been something of a backlash against this style of pants, which is now often seen as uncomfortable, unflattering and for some, a bit on the brash side."

McCoy added that the return of the skirt's popularity had contributed toward the trend for bigger pants, as they leave the wearer feeling less vulnerable than they would wearing a flimsy thong.