Where You Sell Matters: Stitch Reveals Apparel Size Trends Across the US

The United States covers nearly 3.8 million square miles and is home to 317 million people. With so many people covering such a large span of land, we wanted to understand if consumers across the U.S. make similar purchases.

We wanted to know: How does the breakdown of sizes sold vary with geography?

For example, of all items sold in New York what percentage of them had a size small? medium? large? x-large? How does this compare to a neighboring state like Virginia? How does this compare to other states like California or Texas?

Our methodology:
To answer this question, we aggregated orders from our integrated sales channels based on their size and shipping information. We included only items that had a size as an attribute and a variant exactly equal to the sizes included in our analysis (e.g. xs, x-small). These figures give an interesting perspective on how consumer preferences vary along geographic lines.

Keep in mind that we focused on the portion of a size sold to standardize the comparison. We wanted to understand the relative portion of sales that were a certain size. This means that even though many more orders were shipped to New York than Ohio, we made comparisons based on the portion of sales that were a small, medium, large, etc.

Here’s what we found:
To begin, we focused the analysis on a handful of states to determine if the ratios even varied. The results we found were encouraging, indicating that sizes sold across different geographies did vary, particularly for sizes on the fringe like x-small and xx-large. The percentage of mediums sold in the preliminary analysis was consistently around 30%. However, when comparing the portion of x-smalls sold in California and West Virginia, we found that Californians purchased 2.6 times as many.

New York vs. California
People love to compare New York and California. A quick Google search yields 9.5M results for New York vs. California. With all of the chatter, we wanted to answer this question for ourselves.

For how sizes are sold, deciding which state was “best” would be quite difficult. However, we found that the size ratios sold to these two states are nearly identical.

What it means for business: If your two primary markets are New York and California, take a moment to be grateful. Your size runs will be the same for these two markets.

California = New York. Yep, that’s right, we said it.

Which state is the most typical?
We wanted to know which state most closely represents the national breakdown of sizes. You may have expected it to be a state in the midwest (pardon the stereotypes of the midwest as “All-American”).

However, Connecticut is the state with size breakdowns that most closely resemble the national average. For every 100 units sold, less than one sold in Connecticut will have a different size than the 100 units sold across the U.S.

Connecticut is the most typical state.

 

Apparel size trends across the US. Data collected by Stitch Labs. (Click for larger view.) Apparel size trends across the US. Data collected by Stitch Labs. (Click for larger view.)

How does all of this affect my business?
Making smarter decisions starts with data. Now that you have access to the data, you’re probably wondering how to put this information into action for your business.

Here are two ways this information can help you today:

Customize Samples to Match Consumers’ Purchases
When you send samples in order to secure a wholesale contract or showcase a new line, make the most of this opportunity by tailoring your shipments to that state. If you’re shipping to a state that sells a large percentage of xx-larges, be sure to include an xx-large in your sample set.

Rethink Requiring Vendors to Purchase Set Quantities
If you require purchases of set quantities (e.g. bundles of 1 small, 2 mediums, 2 larges, and 1 x-large), keep in mind how the state’s purchasing habits may affect you. If your requirements do not match what is sold in that region, a vendor may delay (or worse -- avoid) re-purchasing from you because a single x-large sits on the shelf while customers come in daily asking for x-smalls and smalls.

Remove the Guess Work when Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Store
You can nail size runs with this information and everything you already know about your business. When you’re opening up a new brick-and-mortar store, take some time to analyze your own data and the information shared here to determine how to do your size runs. When you get size runs correct, you’ll eliminate excess inventory and decrease the need to slash prices (and unnecessarily lose revenue) because you’ll have purchased exactly what your store needs.

Want to learn more about how size matters? Check out our previous study summarized in this infographic, Online Sales Trends: Size Matters.

 

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