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Retailers Rush Hot Fashions To The Racks

Advances in software and technology are allowing stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Aéropostale and Kohl's to offer the latest fashion trends weeks -- or even months -- faster than before and giving the beleaguered retailers more stable profitability, says Jeff Klinefelter, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

New software lets designers, buyers and manufacturers view the same fabric swatch or color at the same time, ending the need to fly designers around the globe or to send overnight packages.

By quickly moving the most desirable items into stores, retailers can also ease their reliance on price markdowns. They can also order less merchandise more often. This lets them adjust orders more easily once certain styles or sizes fail to sell.

J.C. Penney has shrunk the time from when a style is "a gleam in the eye" of a designer until it's in the store from about a year, as recently as 2006, to about seven months, says president Ken Hicks. "The ability to react to what's selling is so important to the customer," Hicks says. "They want innovation, and newness."



Read the whole story at USA Today »

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