By  on July 13, 2011

Mass merchants’ viselike grip on value appears to be slipping.

As U.S. consumers cautiously return to spending during the slow-motion economic recovery, the nation’s discounters collectively experienced a 7.5 percent decline in apparel sales during the 12 months ended in April and saw their share of the U.S. apparel market drop below 20 percent, to 19.3 percent from 21.2 percent in the prior year, according to figures released Tuesday by The NPD Group, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based research organization.

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