Retail Industry Responds to Increasing Childhood Obesity - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/29/04

Retail Industry Responds to Increasing Childhood Obesity

Nearly one in five children in the U.S. is obese, according to recent studies. The evidence can be found in your local department store.

Kimberly Franklin has a 12-year-old daughter who has to wear plus-size clothing.

"Normal clothes just don't fit her," Franklin, a customer at JCPenney, said. "But if you try to take her to the juniors department or the misses department, they're just not cut to fit a 12-year-old."

Many clothing stores have not met the growing demand for children's plus-sizes, especially for girls, until now.

"The way we had it last year, we might have had four or five racks," Michael Strain, the Children's Department manager, said. "Now, against 18 to 20 racks."

JCPenney has recently doubled its number of girls' plus-size items. So there's now an entire section devoted to plus-size kids. And Penney's customers are responding. Girls' plus-size sales have brought in nearly 50 percent more revenue this year than the year before.

Aside from just larger sizes, clothing manufacturers are also using stretchable material to meet expanding waistlines. But you'll have to pay a higher price, usually a couple dollars more for the plus-size.

But one East Texas mom, who shops for her plus-size daughter, doesn't mind paying for the extra fabric.

"Just to pay an extra $2 just to go to the plus sizes, versus the women's sizes, maybe $10 or $12," Glori Bush, a JCPenney customer, said.

Now, the plus-size section even offers more fashionable clothing.

"It's very stylish, up-to-date for, you know, plus-size girls also," Bush said.

"A lot more choices," Franklin said. "I remember when you couldn't buy this cute stuff."

Retailers are cashing in. According to the apparel industry, kids' plus sizes are bringing in more than $3 billion a year. That's nearly 15 percent of the children's clothing market.

Several other mainstream stores are also now carrying more plus-size clothing for kids, including Sears, Wal-Mart, The Gap.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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