Sales growth at specialty apparel stores slowed last month to 1.9 percent versus a year ago, to $5.29 billion, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse.

In January, sales grew 5.4 percent.

Average prices in February slid 0.9 percent as shopping volume, or the number of purchases, rose 2.9 percent, suggesting some degree of discounting, said Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors.

Women’s sales in the category dropped 0.2 percent for the month to $1.3 billion.

In the luxury area, which has been strong, sales slid 2.2 percent to $3.35 billion in February after falling 0.9 percent in January. Prices dipped 0.2 percent as shopping volume fell 2 percent.

“The fact that we’re seeing lower shopping volume and sales is kind of an indication that perhaps people are cutting back on some of these higher-end purchases,” said McNamara.

MasterCard sifts though data from its more than 300 million U.S. credit cards and adjusts for certain variables, such as new accounts, to create the spending overview, which is not indicative of the credit card company’s own performance.

For more, see Thursday’s issue of WWD.

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