Year 3 Stats: Band Sizes

Hello Everyone, Keeping our evolving demographics in mind, today we will be discussing cumulative sales for band sizes.  For the moment, we will omit cup size and instead examine how much of our sales is concentrated per size.  Check out the graph below to see the percentage of total sales represented by each band size:

2014 Band Size Distribution

Observations and Notes:

  • We have sold a few 50+ bands, but the frequency is so sporadic and the amount so trivial that I have not included them in the graph.  For reference, 50-56 bands occupy 0.16% of our total sales.
  • Band sizes 32 to 38 account for nearly 70% of our total sales, which is up 2% from last year.  If we factor in 40 bands, the figure jumps to nearly 79%, up 5% from last year.
  • The 34 band size continues to be our best-selling band size store-wide.
  • Sadly, 28 and 30 bands only account for 8.92% of our sales which is down slightly from last year.
  • Traditional plus-size bands (38-46) represent 36.74% of our sales, down 2% from last year.

Smaller Bands and Personal Preference

Even though I strongly advocate for the inclusion of smaller bands in manufacturers’ collection, my sales for 28 and 30 bands remain quite low compared to traditional mainstream band sizes like 32-40.  Last year, an explosion of 28/30 band customers six months prior to our anniversary led to a 1% gain on our first year of operations.  However, after the end of three years, we saw the number decline slightly, and I strongly suspect 28 and 30 bands will always account for less than 10% of our cumulative sales.  Nevertheless, upon closer inspection, the general decline for these band sizes falls squarely on the 28 bands.  My sales for 30 bands have actually increased from last year, owing in large part to improved options from Wacoal and b.tempt’d, but sales for 28 bands plummeted so much as to drop the entire category.  Part of the reason for lower sales from this demographic is the wider prevalence of the +2 and +4 fitting methodology.  By this, I do not mean misinformation is leading our customers to purchase band sizes that are too big for them, but rather it has been my experience as a fitter that women who measure 26-30″ around the ribcage choose to size up more frequently in the band than any other band size group.  In some cases, the band size which matches their ribcage measurement feels too tight or presses the underwire in painfully.  Given we live in a land of tee shirts, the dreaded back fat is another consideration these women examine and often size up for a smoother profile in the back.  Usually the women choosing to size up wear F cups or under, but I have seen women in H or HH cups do the same.  What band size they were wearing previously can also impact what size they choose to buy, with women wearing 34 or 36 bands more likely to stick with a comfortable 32 than drop to a 28 or 30.   I think it’s important to remember tolerance and personal preference vary widely from individual to individual, and we need to be mindful of how we make others feel when discussing “proper” measuring or fitting techniques.  The +0 method is a great starting point, but it does not work for everyone.

32-40 Bands aka 80% of our Sales

As expected, the largest concentration of sales is in 32 through 40 bands.  Given the size of the average woman (12 or 14), it makes sense to see such a strong performance for the range, particularly for 32-36 bands.  As with last year, the 34 band is our best-selling band size with 36 and 32 close behind.

Plus-Size Bands

While the percentage of sales occupied by traditionally plus-size bands has decreased from last year, we still have a strong core customer base in need of fresh options and a greater variety. In fact, our best-selling brand for the entire store is Elomi. Plus-size women are an underrepresented and undervalued consumer market which deserves more attention from both manufacturers and retailers. These beautiful women have money to spend and want to look and feel good in their bra like any other person, but they’re often shuttled into poorly fitted and/or ugly bras. Elomi, in particular, has made great strides to bring this consumer cute, attractive, and sexy bras that are as supportive as they are beautiful. However, Elomi and sister brand Goddess suffer from a major design flaw which leaves many women frustrated and forced to settle.  The bra designs focus on wider underwires/gores with an average cup depth toward the center.  For women wearing a G cup or lower, the design does not create many issues, but for the millions of women in the GG+ cups, Elomi and Goddess bras experience tacking issues and can spread breast tissue across the chest to the side.  Most fuller-busted women have more breast tissue toward the front, but many full-bust designs are just the opposite!  Panache’s Sculptresse line shows promise, but every collection seems to feature at least one style which never makes it to production. The lack of strong basics in the line does not help either since many women in this category crave something simple which fits well and creates a flattering profile.  I think if the options on the market would continue to improve, we would see more growth.

Words of Encouragement

From a personal perspective, I know a statistical series like this can negatively impact body image for some women.  One of the unfortunate statements I hear on a weekly basis is how women feel like they have “weird” or “abnormal” bodies, particularly if they fall outside of the more common sizes.  There is nothing weird or abnormal about your body.  In fact, I hope to show women how diverse bra sizes can be and shed light on how retailers make buying decisions based on the strongest demand.  Past sales will always be a large factor in the buying process, and in order to stay open to help women in less common sizes, we need to stock more inventory we can sell quickly.  These best-sellers help minimize inventory overhead and enable us to special order other sizes or styles as needed.  To this effect, the best way to encourage manufacturers to make a special size is to buy it at full price.  This isn’t to say you should buy a substandard product, but if you are never buying these sizes at full-price, retailers will not stock them.  It’s not that I don’t want to have a large range of sizes or to have a decent selection in every size, but when you can carry everything from a 28A to a 56H, that easily leads to the “too many SKUs” problem.  Your turnover plummets, your bottom line is eaten up with excess inventory, and pretty soon, you’re not helping anyone anymore.  Retail ownership is hard, and boutique owners do the best they can.  At the end of the day, our goal is to help you, our customers, and we would never want you to feel negatively about yourself because we don’t carry as much in your size.  In the three years we have been open, I have about ten customers who wear my size range, so from one less-than-common size to another:  You’re perfect as you are.

Erica

Year 3 Stats: Band Sizes
Erica
Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.

13 thoughts on “Year 3 Stats: Band Sizes

  • August 13, 2014 at 12:33 pm
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    I know that Erica has given me great advice. I’m wondering how many other men she has helped who also have large breasts (I wear a 38E / F).

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2014 at 11:50 am
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      I have helped a lot of men in the E/F cup range, so you are definitely not alone, Corey! The most important thing is finding a size that fits and feels comfortable. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm
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    I love these statistical posts 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I think it really helps quell misinformation when a boutique focused on great fit releases stats like these.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2014 at 11:57 am
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      Thanks, Windie! I think it really sheds light on how diverse women are and how we need to have more options for size and style. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm
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    This makes me feel less ‘big’ at a 36 band… more just one of the gals. 🙂

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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      Glad you’re enjoying the statistical results!!

      Reply
  • August 13, 2014 at 4:24 pm
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    I think that part of the reason why you may be selling fewer 28 and 30 bands is just the location of your store. If you are located in the southern United States, you will sell fewer 28 and 30 bands than a store located in Europe, Asia or the northern United States. In Europe and the Northern United States, average BMIs tend to be lower, and this means that people will go for smaller bands. In Asia, average BMIs will be lower, and people will also be genetically shorter, thinner, smaller boned, and more ectomorphic. I think that worldwide most women will fit into anything from a 28 to a 34 band. However, American women tend to require larger bands.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm
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      Hi Saskia! It’s an interesting theory, and I would love it if European store owners could weigh in on the debate. While we do love our chicken and biscuits down here, I think our 28/30 band sales are low for two reasons. First, many of the women in these sizes prefer a looser band. The Lingerie Addict, for example, uses the +4 method herself for comfort, and she’s not alone. Secondly, most of the women in the 28/30 band tend to be younger and have less discretionary income. So, they may buy two bras a year while other customers in the 32-38 band size range will buy 7 or 8. It’s one of the hazards of not being able to normalize the sales to eliminate people who purchase enough to skew results, but at the same time, if they are purchasing 8 bras a year, I’m going to make sure I have the stock to support that decision.

      Reply
  • August 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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    It’s interesting that the 28 and 30 bands sell so little. You mention that you special order different sizes and styles, but does it affect your profit? If I asked my local store to do that, would it be a hint that they could expand their size range, or would it be an inconvenience?

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm
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      Annika, you asked such an awesome question, I feel like it deserves a blog post all its own to do it justice. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 14, 2014 at 2:57 pm
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    I understand that a boutique can’t carry everything and stay afloat. The special orders set A Sophisticated Pair apart from my local stores and if I were local I’d be in all the time!

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    • Erica
      August 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm
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      Thanks Faustineli! The special order policy does help us to work with women in different sizes as well as to handle demands for different colors, and even though it doesn’t always pan out, it’s enough to make it worthwhile for both us and our customers.

      Reply
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