UK: National size survey extends to pre-school children

Leading high street clothing retailers Tesco and Marks & Spencer are sponsoring the latest phase of a national sizing survey that will for the first time provide comprehensive data on the changing size and shape of babies and toddlers.

The results will provide manufacturers and retailers with data to help produce better-fitting clothes, as well as offering insight that can be used by sports scientists, academics and ongoing obesity measurement programmes.

The latest research is part of the wider Shape GB national children's wear survey, which was launched in 2009 with the support of Next, Monsoon, Shop Direct and George at Asda and for the first time used 3D body scanners to measure boys and girls aged 4-17.

This first phase was completed in early 2011, and the four sponsoring retailers are already improving and upgrading their own measurements using this data.

The second phase will focus on boys and girls aged 0-4 in England, Scotland and Wales. More than 20,000 manual measurements will be collected from over 600 babies and toddlers for the project, which is being managed by 3D scanning specialist Select Research

"Comprehensive sizing research of this kind is extremely beneficial and informative for both clothing retailers and customers," explains Alan Wragg, technical director for Tesco clothing. "We look forward to understanding more about the results of the baby and toddler sizing survey."

While Rebecca Thompson, M&S' head of innovation and quality for kidswear, adds: "We've long supported clothing sizing surveys to ensure we offer the best fit for our customers. This new survey will help provide further insight for retailers into the changing body shape of babies and toddlers across the nation."

Shape GB is the first comprehensive measurement survey on children since the privately commissioned Childrenswear Survey by M&S in 2000 and the publicly available British Standard which was based on data collected in 1978.

"There are national healthcare studies, which measure height, weight and waist circumference of babies and children, but these alone do not tell the full story," explains Richard Barnes, MD of Select Research and project director for Shape GB.

"Body shapes of young children change very quickly as they grow and so leg length, chest width and the combination of numerous measurements can offer insight into how clothes can be manufactured more accurately. This also offers us a better understanding of what these changes in body shape really mean in other areas of life."

The six retailers sponsoring Shape GB account for 39% of the UK children's wear market in value terms and 47% of the UK children's wear market by volume according to data from Kantar Worldpanel.

Phase 1 of Shape GB is in association with: