Shoppers who took advantage of all those December promotions most likely got their apparel purchases for 30 percent off.
But while retail discounts remained rampant over the holidays, they also held steady in the days after Christmas — serving as the latest indication that the 2016 season may have topped original expectations.
Although the average apparel discount ticked slightly higher to 31.3 percent in December, the average amount of clothing on sale dropped nearly 8 percentage points, to 50.2 percent, according to the research firm Conlumino. But unlike 2015, when unseasonably warm weather left retailers with too much winter apparel on the rack, markdowns stayed consistent in the week that started Dec. 26.
"Given the better inventory positions entering and exiting the holiday period, we believe retailers were afforded a bit more flexibility in terms of discounting and adjusting the cadence as needed throughout the holiday period," Dana Telsey, CEO of the Telsey Advisory Group, told clients.
Discounts were less aggressive at Kohl's, which was a leader among moderately priced department stores, Telsey said. In general, promotions at higher-priced department stores were less extreme than their lower-priced counterparts. Similarly, while sales at specialty apparel stores were elevated, they appeared planned, she said.
Jefferies analyst Randal Konik told clients that some post-Christmas clearance levels at specialty shops were slightly higher than last year. But several used the post-holiday traffic boost as a means to introduce their mostly full-price spring product. That includes Gap and American Eagle.