By  on November 22, 2013

Promote now — and worry about the margins later.


That seems to be the mind-set of U.S. retailers as they get set for the all-important holiday season, which in some cases has already begun but will hit full speed next week. On Thursday, the busiest day of the third-quarter retail reporting season, the evidence of the heavy promotions and weak traffic endured by stores this fall was omnipresent, as was their combatively promotional orientation going forward.

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“The weak sales trend that began in July continued through the quarter,” said Mike Jeffries, chairman and chief executive officer of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., on a Thursday morning conference call. “While the sales trend improved in October, this was largely related to a step-up in promotional activity and the anniversarying of certain events, such as [Hurricane] Sandy.” A&F saw sales decline 11.7 percent in the quarter and is “prepared for conditions to remain difficult in the fourth quarter and intend to manage the business accordingly.”

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