Since we have discussed the band sizes and cup sizes separately now, it’s time to combine them and analyze the breakdown of sales by bra size. To best accomplish this, I have created graphs of sales within each band size, and I also determined our best-selling sizes. Remember to read through our demographics discussion as well. (Note: All sizes are in UK sizing.)
Top 5 Best-Selling UK Bra Sizes: 34E, 34F, 32E, 36E, 36FF
UK Bra Sizes Rounding Out the Top 10: 36G, 36F, 34G, 34FF, 38F
- With E-G cups accounting for 59% of our sales, I am not surprised by their strong concentration in every band size, nor am I shocked that our top-selling sizes are also within that range.
- The distribution of GG+ cup sizes steadily improved with each year of operation, and the higher frequency of customers needing GG-HH cups facilitated the expansion of higher cup sizes as well as the inclusion of new product lines.
- Our B-DD sizes have also shown a better distribution this year.
- Band sizes 42-46 show an interesting, less bell-shaped distribution, which follows intuitively because these are lower performing bands. The fewer data points we have in the sample, the rockier the graph has been ever since we opened.
- While we do sell bras in the 48-56 band size range, the data points are scarce, erratic, and highly influenced by sales to single customers, i.e., one customer may have bought 12 bras over four years in her size. Including them would not aid in identifying trends or in explaining our inventory selection.
- Our Top 5 sizes account for 15% of total bra sales, and if we extend the figure to include the Top 10 sizes, the share jumps to 27%, meaning over a quarter of our total bra sizes are in only ten sizes!
The Sweet Spot & Special Order Connection
A few months ago, I wrote a post outlining how retailers choose to purchase products, and our analysis of bra sizing distribution functions as an appropriate corollary. With only ten sizes accounting for a quarter of our current sales, our goal is to ensure those sizes (and other nearby ones) have the best selection in the shop. These are what I call the “Sweet Spot” sizes because the more colors, styles, and units per size we carry in the shop, the more likely our average customer will be to walk out with a purchase in hand. Transactions involving in-store merchandise are the safest, easiest way to generate a profit, and sweet spot sizes typically encompass the majority of your core customer base. Recall that 72% of our sales are in D-G sizes and 86% are in 30-40 bands, meaning we can comfortably accommodate the bulk of our customers with only thirty-six bra sizes. Catering to the sweet spot size range also enables retailers to pay rent, to fuel expansion to other products, to allow budget for fashion colors, and to even offer the flexibility to stock sizes which sell less frequently. This latter point is especially important to me personally because our goal is help all people, especially those who are struggling to find a bra which fits, and the faster turnover rate afforded by a better selection in core sizing helps us accomplish that goal. Profit margins are low on bras (which is why it inwardly kills me when I get asked constantly about discounts, but that’s a topic for another post), and to tackle the problem, some boutiques will only carry their core sizes. It’s not always feasible for a store to stay in business by stocking inventory for the sake of having a slew of slow sellers at hand for when that one customer walks in the shop needing them.
As someone whose 30HH bra size is outperformed by 34K, 40HH, 42DD, and 28G among many, many others, I know the frustration in only having a handful of options in the shop, but for our business, those sweet spot sizes keep our doors open so we can continue to help people, like myself, who need a place which listens to their needs and finds the right style for them—in some cases through special orders. Special orders, incidentally, are not ideal for retailers. Many simply will not offer it anymore because of poor experiences, and we have had to revise our own policies several times because of customers taking advantage. In a perfect world, we would carry your size in several styles and colors regardless of whether you wear a 28AA or a 56JJ, but I live in the real world. Unless a winning lottery ticket affords me the cash to build the multi-level glamorous bra store of my imagination, someone will always want something sold out or that we do not stock. It’s gonna happen. However, there’s a difference between filling in with the occasional piece and living or dying by the special order sheet. When we opened, our inventory forced us into the latter camp, in part because market demand is notoriously difficult to pinpoint in this business but also because we started with an absolutely microscopic budget. With over four years of operation influencing our future buying decisions, we have become less and less dependent on orders, but I doubt it will ever completely dissipate. As a result, if you wear a size that occupies a smaller percentage of sales, understand that I may not always stock a lot in your size or constantly bring in new inventory, but I am still willing to order for you.
Thoughts for the Future
Our sales have been growing and growing since we opened, and I think the statistics this year really prove how time can fine tune the results, evening out some of the abnormalities for a better representation. As always, I am looking forward to seeing what next year brings, particularly because it will mark a full five years worth of statistics. Already I feel like we have seen certain shifts from this data in the intervening months because we have expanded to include several new brands, including American Breast Care, Curvy Couture, and Skarlett Blue. We are also working heavily to improve our wireless bra selection as that has always been a weaker area, and finally capturing that customer base could shift the shape of the sizing distribution. This could also be the year when we start to see more of those AA-C cup customers too, particularly as we can order from more companies with those sizes now. But for now, I’ll just have to be patient!
While this concludes the bra sizing portion of the series, I also have plans to talk about some best-selling items like bras, shapewear, and brands. It should be an interesting way of ending the series and exploring our buying process!