Fashion Promotions Index

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[All charts updated bi-weekly; our writeups, less often]
Fashion Retailers Push Promotions as Consumers Pull in Spending

We continually track publicly available data to analyze promotions offered by leading apparel and footwear brands—then update the graphs below (Fashion, Footwear, and Regular Wear) with our findings every two weeks.

Promotions have become an increasingly critical lever to drive store and web traffic as consumer discretionary spending continues to lag.

Apparel prices, in general, are on the rise as input costs have notably increased. According to the most recent Consumer Price Index, unadjusted apparel prices have seen a 1.1 percent year-over-year (November 2022-2023) increase. Specifically, prices for  men’s and boys’ apparel have risen by 2.8 percent YoY, while women’s and girls’ apparel prices have increased by 0.1 percent YoY. Footwear category prices have increased 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: Q1 (the least expensive products) through Q4 (the most expensive products).

Footwear Promotions: Huge Seasonal Peaks and Declines

Promo depth for footwear peaked in early July 2023, a period that saw increased promo depth across price points (except Q3). Previously, footwear promo depth peaked in mid-November 2022, also with increased promo depth across price points. There was another peak in early February 2023.

Promo depth August 2022-2023 has been higher for women’s wear than men’s wear (except mid-July, when mens wear was sightly higher). That was true the preceding nine months as well.

Also YoY from August 2022, the promo breadth of inexpensive products (Q4) has stayed higher than products at other price points. 

Promotion breadth last year peaked during the holidays and increased significantly in mid-January 2023, up almost 100 percent across categories. Moreover, promo breadth in women’s wear stayed higher than men’s wear.

In the first half of December 2023, overall promotion depth increased by 4.3 percent, primarily driven by a sharp increase (16.7 percent) for hiking shoes. In addition, footwear promo depth in the Q2 price quartile increased by 7.9 percent.

In the first half of December 2023, the promo breadth for footwear decreased 17.1 percent driven by a significant decrease across categories and price points.

Athleisure Promotions: Smaller Spikes

Compared to footwear, athleisure promo depth increased significantly less during the 2022  holiday season. It increased across categories in mid-November but dipped quite significantly by the end of the month. Promo depth increased from December 2022 to January 2023 and, after falling significantly in the Spring, increased dramatically to an all-time high in July 2023

In most months, the least expensive (Q1) 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 promo depth increased only minimally in the holiday season, promo breadth was up almost 2x in mid-November—then normalized by the end of the month. It peaked again mid-December then trended down until it spiked in May to a new 2023 high. 

December 2022 through August 2023, the shorts category has consistently seen the highest promo breadth.

While men’s wear saw higher promo breadth than women’s wear in 2022, this trend reversed in mid-January, and then reversed again as men’s wear promo breadth surpassed women’s wear in April 2023.

In the first half of December 2023, overall promotion depth increased by 8.6 percent. The shorts category saw the sharpest increase (15.9 percent), followed by tops & t shirts (7.1 percent). Meanwhile, the overall breadth of promotion decreased 21.7 percent, driven by a steep decrease in hoodies, sweatshirts, shorts, joggers, sweatpants, shorts, and tops, t shirts.

Regular Wear Promotions: Uneven Across Categories

Like athleisure wear, regular wear saw only a minimal increase in promo depth during the 2022 holiday season.

Outerwear has consistently seen higher promo depth than whole body, bottom wear, or top wear categories since August of 2022 (except for July 2023).

Usually, Q1 products have the lowest promo depth, but since mid-July 2023 that quartile has shown the greatest promo depth.  In line with the trend for athleisure, the depth of promotions for men’s wear has stayed higher than in women’s wear.

Like promo depth, overall promo breadth 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 Q2 pricing quartile have twice seen higher promo breadth than Q3 products: Once in April and again in July, 2023. Men’s wear in regular clothing has consistently seen higher promo breadth than women’s wear.

In the first half of December 2023 overall promotion depth decreased by 5.8 percent with mixed changes across categories. Innerwear Bottoms promo depth increased the most (7.4 percent) while innerwear tops decreased the most (18.21 percent).

Promo breadth for regular wear decreased to 9.0 percent; shirts showed the steepest increase (9.4 percent) and socks decreased the most (33.1 percent).

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