How to Decide the Right Sizes for your Bulk Order
“What shirt sizes should I get?”
A question you would probably ask yourself if you’ve been assigned to placing a bulk order of shirts. It's good if you were given a list of what size to get, but it is another thing if you need to order blindly and hope you will have everything you need.
If this is your dilemma, read this post first before placing that bulk t-shirt order for your company logo shirts, promotional giveaways, or a significant event to help you decide on what to do.
There are three main guidelines to observe, but I have included additional considerations to help you decide as a bonus.
Don't Play the Guessing Game
When you need to place a large order for shirts and don't know what sizes to get, it is always easy to take a wild guess.
“Let’s just do 25 of each.”
You will have two problems with this:
(1) extra shirts in some sizes and (2) not enough in others.
Guessing that you’ll need, say, only mediums and larges won't also help you. While they may work for many people you’re ordering for, going this route means excluding smaller and larger people.
Taking these approaches are practically guaranteed to end up costing you extra money and wasting time reordering.
Follow a Simple Ratio
A quick and easy way to remember in ordering bulk shirts is through a simple ratio based on a total of 10.
This ratio breaks down to:
1 Small - 2 Medium - 3 Large - 3 Extra Large - 1 Extra Extra Large
Simply divide the total number of shirts you're ordering to 10 (total ratio) and multiply the product by each sizing. For example, if you need 100 shirts, multiply each by 10. If you need 1,000, multiply by 100, and so on.
While the medium is statistically a more typical size than extra-large, we advise skewing toward the XL side. Someone who usually wears a medium can wear a large or extra-large if you run out. Someone who usually wears an extra-large will have a much more difficult time squeezing into a smaller shirt if their size isn’t available.
“A shirt that is too small stays in the box, while a shirt that is too big can still be worn.” – Mike Callahan.
It is also a good idea to order at least one or two shirts in the XS and 3XL sizes. You can add to the far ends of the spectrum some XS, and 3XL, which are not accounted for in this formula but would typically be less of a percentage than the S and 2XL sizes.
Look at the Numbers: Most Common Shirt Sizes Sold
Below is a graph showing the average distribution of sizes purchased, based on data collected worldwide. The numbers on the left side of the chart are percentages. The purple line represents the United States.
When you study the numbers, large is the most popular shirt size. It values about 30 percent of shirt sales. At 28 percent, the medium is next, and extra large is third at 20 percent. The percentages for small and large are much lower.
Looking at that info, if you take a guess and only order shirts in medium and large because they’re the most popular sizes, you’ll end up eliminating about 42 percent of the people you’re buying the shirts for.
Shirt fabric should also be considered when ordering shirts for shrinkage. If your shirts are 100% cotton, you may need to skew a little farther towards the larger end. This will ensure they’ll still fit after being washed. For 50/50 poly cotton, you should not worry as much, and for 100% polyester, shrinkage won't be an issue at all.
Many of today’s “fashion fit” styles run somewhat smaller than their standard equivalents. You may want to skew a bit larger if you’re ordering these styles. For instance, the cut may be tapered for a slimmer fit on certain styles from Anvil, American Apparel, Next Level, and District. Ask your sales representative if you are uncertain about the cut of the specific shirt you are ordering.
Finally, think about your demographic. Is it a yoga retreat? Maybe skew smaller. Is it a merchandise for people in their 20’s? Go with the fashion fit. Is it a food festival? You might want to skew to the larger size.
With all these things considered, you will make your customers, employees, family, or fans very happy.