NEW YORK — Despite strong junior business in the first three quarters, women’s apparel purchases overall failed to keep up with the pace of 2001, according to the NPDFashionworld Consumer survey, a division of The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y.

"This is one of the most challenging times in apparel," said Marshal Cohen, co-president of NPDFashionworld. "With so many upper-end consumers migrating to lower channels to shop, retailers are seeking the right route to entice consumers. They’re wrestling with value pricing to compete, or they try to go the other direction by offering unique upscale product. Those that try to be both are finding out that this is the toughest of all routes. Stores that are demonstrating sales success right now are either offering real value on fashion, or product that separates them from the other retailers.

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