It has been widely reported that the high street, as we know it, is dying a slow and painful death. With big brand names such as WH Smith, Woolworths and House of Fraser disappearing from our streets, are people simply shopping more online or is the decline of the high street deeper rooted than we thought?
Why the high street died a long time ago for the plus size shopper
For many plus size shoppers, news of big brand shops closing down will come as no big surprise. We have seen many a plus size name come and go from our high streets over the years. Our once go-to high street giant, Evans has closed many of its physical shops forcing its older clientele into the arms of the likes of Bonmarche. New Look’s Curve range has been in and out of the physical shops like a cuckoo in a clock.
It would seem that the round pound isn’t enough of a pull for retailers to invest in their plus lines. And when I say invest, I don’t necessarily mean monetarily. A veritable throng of high street shops have attempted to dip their toe in the plus size pool, only to have failed miserably, sloping back into the comforting arms of their straight size customer, but why?
To the plus size shopper it seems simple; it’s down to a basic lack of effort and understanding.
Here’s how it usually goes… big brand launches curve line. Big brand makes a bit of a fuss, but not a lot. Big brand shoves the bare minimum of curve line to the back of the store; in a badly lit corner as to not garner too much attention. Big brand doesn’t employ plus size people to design, promote or sell said curve range. We are often given the crumbs of fashion. A token whiff of a trend a year after everyone else. A few poor quality basics. So, plus size shopper goes back to favourite online brand because they know exactly what they’re getting, when it’s going to be available and that said online brand actually values their custom.
When a brand does it research, invests in its customer and understands what they want, then they are set to make an absolute killing. The plus size customer is tired of being retail’s dirty secret. We want to be celebrated, listened to and catered for. We earn money, just like every other paying customer, and we would like to spend it with someone who values us.
This means we want trends when our straight size counterparts get them. We want a variety of product that enables us to make a choice, whether that be fast fashion with a value price point, or quality style made to last. We as customers have been told time and time again that we are not worthy of this breadth of choice or investment.
The high street has never fully catered for the plus size customer and it would seem now this has extended to the straight size customer too. Consumers want variety, comfort of surroundings and great customer service. Things that seem to be sadly lacking from our current high street.
Will this sudden retreat to online shopping cause a change in our towns and cities? Will we see the customer experience as a whole re-thought? Will shopping become a more interactive, social experience? Only time will tell. But until then, the plus size shopper will most probably remain in the warm comfort of their online haven.PlusSize.co.uk is funded by navabi (https://www.navabi.co.uk). We do this to push for fairer representation of plus size women in the media. If you share this goal, please do share any article you agree with. (And, of course, do feel free to browse 10,000+ dresses, tops, suits, etc at navabi.co.uk if you'd like to support us further.)