A growing number of retailers are turning to plus-size clothing, with the aim of increasing sales and reducing sales-force attrition, according to a report from research firm SurveyMonkey.
The report, published Tuesday, also found that the average size of apparel sold in the U.S. has increased by more than 50 percent since 2014, with more than 1.5 million items available for purchase online.
The study was done on the same day that the Department of Justice filed suit against Target for allegedly discriminating against women in its retail stores.
“It’s not a surprise,” said Megan Geller, senior vice president at SurveyMonkeys.
“The average size is still smaller than in 2014.”
In 2014, Target and other plus-sized retailers reported selling nearly 2.6 million plus- size clothing items.
The company said the increased sales and attrition was due to a rise in the number of customers purchasing plus-sizes, including in apparel and accessories.
The department’s suit says that Target violated federal law by not giving women a choice between sizes, which are sold separately and can vary by several sizes.
The suit, which is seeking class-action status, alleges that Target did not give customers a choice.
In the meantime, retailers are working to make their brands more accessible to customers with larger bodies.
Macy’s has launched a plus-length range of its dresses, which have become a hot seller in the past few years, with women buying sizes ranging from 6 to 30.
And Gap has expanded its plus-shoe collection, adding a number of sizes to its existing range.
Gap has said that its plus sizes are not designed for those with larger breasts.
“We have been doing this for more than a decade and we’ve made our own decisions as to the fit of our clothing for our customers,” Gap CEO Amy Smith said in an interview with ABC News.
“Our plus-shaped apparel is a reflection of our customer experience.”
Still, the industry is still not making enough of an effort to make plus- sized clothing more accessible.
“There’s been a lot of progress in terms of making it accessible, but we still need to do more,” said Geller.
“Even if you’re a size 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, you still want to be able to walk in and have a conversation with someone who looks the way you do.”
While retailers are trying to create a more inclusive clothing market, the reality is that women still face barriers to purchasing the sizes they want.
Many of the brands that cater to a broader range of sizes, including Gap, carry clothing that is more than 30 inches long.
According to Geller’s research, about 70 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 44 wear a size 30 or 30+ on a regular basis.
In addition, a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center found that a recent study by the Consumer Reports Institute found that more than two-thirds of women have worn clothing that falls short of the standards of a plus size.
Geller said the trend to get bigger will continue as consumers get bigger, especially in terms that will help them in the workplace.
“If you’re the same size as your husband, you’re going to have to adjust to your life in a different way, or you’re likely to be more competitive in a workplace where you’re not as well defined as someone who is an extra-large,” Geller told ABC News, adding that she believes this trend will continue in the coming years.