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Several months have passed since the Great Christmas Sales of '08—enough time for consumer behavior to change, but not enough for department stores to scale back the way they order inventory. What they can change, though, is the price, and so we're seeing spring sales start much earlier this year. "Analysts and retailers expect clearances to surface before Mother's Day, with stores currently grappling with spring orders written last year—before consumers really clamped down on spending—and trying to whittle inventories down in line with demand," explains WWD.
Oh, but it's so much more tortured than that. Despite the rush of controlled "friends & family" discounts and minor markdowns, retailers don't want to start clearances yet, since they're still traumatized by what happened last time. Says one anonymous retailer, "It's too early. It's much, much, much too early. Nobody wants to be the first [to break price] because they're terrified of what happened with Saks." Saks, you'll recall, wound up leaking inventory for weeks, seriously alienating designers in the process. Much as we like markdowns, here's hoping that doesn't happen again.
· A New Approach: Spring Markdowns Sprout Early [WWD, subscription req'd]
· Saks' Sale Fallout [Racked]