Ozempic is fueling demand for smaller clothing sizes

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Ozempic users are consuming fewer calories, and as a result are buying smaller sizes to fit their newly svelte bodies or, in some cases, are choosing more revealing fashion styles.

Some clothing brands have noted their customers are buying new clothing items that are multiple sizes down, which they suspect is likely due to the customers dropping weight after taking Ozempic or similar GLP-1 weight loss drugs. At the same time, Walmart has said shoppers are purchasing "fewer units" of food due to the popularity of the drugs, and Nestle has even launched a line of foods specifically for GLP-1 weight loss medication users.

There's hardly a category of consumption, from food and beverages to travel and leisure, that Americans' increasing adoption of the weight-loss drugs won't shake up, according to analysts studying the drugs' impact on consumer behavior.

"It's already affecting demand in some categories and it will affect demand in others. With millions coming into this new drug space, we are wondering what is it not going to affect?" Leigh O'Donnell, vice president of shopping insights at Kantar, a market research company, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Customers are sizing down

Bryan Davis, founder of Teddy Stratford, a New York City-based company that makes fitted dress and casual shirts for men, said that in recent months, enough of his long-time customers suddenly started ordering shirts that were two sizes smaller than their usual orders that it caused him to consider what was driving the change.

"Because we are an e-commerce company, we can see our customer's individual buying history, and we monitor it for irregularities to mitigate returns and exchanges," Davis told CBS MoneyWatch."We've seen a lot of our customers ordering one or two sizes smaller than they have in the past. When we reach out to them to confirm that the new size was on purpose, they always confirm that it is."

Of course, Davis can't be sure that weight loss drugs are driving the pattern — the company doesn't survey customers about their use of the medications. But he suspects the rise of GLP-1s are behind the trend. "We didn't know why this was happening but this completely makes sense. Our customer is generally higher earning, and they could definitely afford Ozempic," he said.

About one-third of weight loss drug users surveyed by Morning Consult said they were buying new clothing more often compared to the period before they started taking the medication, said Nicki Zink, the company's deputy head of industry analysis.

"It makes sense that folks would be looking to buy smaller clothes or new styles, as well," Zink told CBS MoneyWatch.

Insights from Impact Analytics, a retail forecasting company, also show that enough customers are sizing down for retailers to take note. The company studied sales patterns at stores on Manhattan's Upper West Side, which it identified as the epicenter of non-diabetic use of GLP-1 drugs.

Compared to 2022, sales of women's button-down shirts in sizes XXS, XS, and S increased by 12% in 2024, while sales of XXL, XL and L sized shirts decreased by 11%. The shift will force retailers to adapt alongside consumers, according to Impact Analytics.

"The slimming down of America will have an enormous impact on retailers and could cost them approximately $20 million each year due to incorrect size curves. These losses will only accelerate as more people take GLP-1 drugs for weight loss," Impact Analytics founder and CEO Prashant Agrawal said in a statement.

Hip-hugging fabrics

While during the COVID-19 pandemic Americans gravitated toward comfortable, baggy and sometimes figure-hiding clothing like sweatpants, O'Donnell of market-research company Kantar said that, anecdotally, she's recently seen a rise in consumers gravitating toward stretchy, body-hugging fabrics, as well as styles like body-con dresses, which show off wearers' every curve.

"It has body positivity built into it. It says, whatever shape you are, let's see it. It also gives a lot of flexibility, versus the pair of blue jeans I bought 10 years ago that were cotton, heavyweight, and I needed to be the exact shape of the jeans to feel good in them," she said.

Eating out is down, exercising is up

The Morning Consult survey of more than 4,400 U.S. adults, conducted in November 2023, also found that 38% of GLP-1 users reported exercising more often since starting to take the drugs. That could be a boon to the fitness industry, if in the coming years more Americans invest in gym memberships, exercise classes or at-home equipment.

At the same time, they are cooking at home more frequently, versus eating at restaurants, likely because that gives them greater control over the ingredients they consume, as well as portion sizes.

Morgan Stanley research analysts also found that survey respondents said they exercised more after starting to take anti-obesity medications. The percent of respondents who said they exercised weekly doubled from 35% pre-medication to 71% after.

Morgan Stanley equity research analyst Brian Harbour explained the relationship between the drugs and exercise, saying in a research note, "... perhaps as patients lose weight, they simply feel both more physically able and more mentally motivated to exercise more to compound the benefits they are seeing from weight loss medications."

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