Percent of department store units of casual apparel bought on sale, by product category.

Consumers have been playing a game of chicken with retailers for years. The mantra, "Why pay more?" has been heard loud and clear, especially since stores hate nothing more than having excess inventory going into a new season. Last year, three out of four women’s casual sportswear items in department stores were bought on sale. Casual pants were the most frequently marked down item. The most steeply discounted items were dresses, blouses and pants. On average, women paid $14 below the ticket price for department store casual sportswear. The situation may not improve any time soon. The industry faces a flood of cutthroat-priced imports, weakening domestic and global demand, and deflation.

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