It's a big market opportunity with growing sales potential, but retailers can't seem to figure it out.
The plus-size apparel market generated $17.5 billion in sales between May 2013 and April 2014, up 5 percent from the year prior, according to market research firm The NPD Group. But that figure likely under-represents the true opportunity of the demographic given that the average American woman is a size 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mariah Chase, CEO of plus-size retailer Eloquii, said she estimates that 65 percent of American woman are considered plus size, but the category represents only about 17 percent to 18 percent of apparel sales.
Despite the huge potential for growth, retailers have had difficulty competing in the category, a point that has often led to frustrated consumers. But there are signs of a shift as new retailers take up the challenge.