Fashion Promotions Index

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Fashion Retailers Pull Out Promotions to Slam Brakes on Inflation

We continually track publicly available data to analyze promotions offered by leading apparel and footwear retailers and brands—then report our findings here every two weeks.

Promotions have become an increasingly critical lever to drive store and web traffic as inflationary pressures over the last two years have led consumers to reduce their discretionary spending—especially for consumers who’ve experienced constrained incomes. According to the NPD Group’s latest Retail Momentum report, apparel and footwear sales declined as much or faster in the second quarter of 2022 than in the first quarter.

Apparel prices, in general, are on the rise as input costs have experienced a notable increase. According to the most recent Consumer Price Index, unadjusted apparel prices have seen a 3.6 percent year-over-year increase. Specifically, prices for women’s and girls’ apparel have risen by 4.2 percent, while men’s and boys’ apparel prices have increased by 3.5 percent. The footwear category has witnessed a modest uptick of 0.7 percent.

IA Fashion Promotions Index: By the Numbers

The IA Fashion Promotions Index measures the depth of promotion—the average promotion for all products in a given category—and the breadth of promotion, the proportion of products promoted in a given category.

The Index analyzes promotion breadth and depth trends across departments, categories, and price points. It further groups products into four pricing quartiles: from Q1 containing the least expensive products through Q4, which houses the most expensive products.

Footwear Promotions: Huge Seasonal Peaks and Declines

Promo depth for footwear peaked in mid-November 2022 during holiday promotions, a period that saw increased promo depth across price points. There was another peak in early February 2023. Promo depth in the last nine months has been higher for women’s wear than men’s wear.

Promotion breadth, too, peaked during holiday promotions and increased significantly in mid-January 2023. After a sharp dip in late October 2022, promo breadth was up almost 100 percent across categories: A new high for the year. Over the last nine months, the promo breadth of the most expensive products has remained higher than products in other price points. Moreover, promo breadth in women’s wear has stayed higher than men’s wear.

In the last two weeks, overall promotion depth decreased by 2.1 percent, primarily driven by a sharp decline (10.2 percent) for hiking shoes. In addition, footwear promo depth in the Q2 price quartile dipped a significant 9.9 percent.

The promo breadth for footwear increased significantly (37.3 percent) driven by a significant increase across categories and price points.

Athleisure Promotions: Smaller Spikes

Compared to footwear, athleisure promo depth increased significantly less during last year’s  holiday season. It increased across categories during mid-November but dipped quite significantly by the end of the month. In most months, the least expensive products saw the highest promo depth. Moreover, promo depth for men’s athleisure has been consistently higher than for women’s wear.

While the athleisure depth of promotions saw a minimal holiday season increase, promo breadth was up almost 2x in mid-November—but normalized by the end of the month. In the last nine months, shorts have consistently seen higher promo breadth than any other category. While men’s wear saw higher promo breadth than women’s wear in 2022, this trend has reversed since mid-January.

In the last two weeks, overall promotion depth increased by 8.2 percent. The  tops and t-shirts category saw the steepest increase(12.1 percent) followed by joggers & sweatpants (8.1 percent). On the other hand, the overall breadth of promotion declined by a significant 11.2 percent, driven by a steep decline in hoodies, sweatshirts, joggers and sweatpants.

Regular Wear Promotions: Uneven Across Categories

Compared to footwear, regular wear, same as athleisure wear, saw only a minimal increase in promo depth during the 2022 holiday season. In the last eight months, outerwear has consistently seen higher promo depth than the whole body, bottom wear, or top wear. Moreover, products in the Q3 price quartile have seen higher promo depth in the last five months. In line with the trend for athleisure, the depth of promotions for men’s wear has stayed higher than those in women’s wear.

Like promo depth, overall promo breadth also increased minimally during the last holiday season. The breadth of promotions for loungewear has consistently stayed at 2x levels compared to other categories. Products in the Q3 price quartile have seen higher promo breadth in the last five months. Unlike athleisure, men’s wear in regular clothing has consistently seen higher promo breath than women’s wear.

In the last two weeks, overall promotion depth decreased by 5.2 percent with mixed changes across categories. The innerwear’s promo depth increased the most (5.3 percent) while coats & jackets’ decreased the most (14.2 percent).

Promo breadth for regular wear too saw a decrease of 7.4 percent, in which coats and jackets showed the steepest decrease of 32.3 percent, and innerwear tops increased the most (7.7 percent).

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