Markdown, or the percentage discount from the regular selling price, is a profitability metric for retail products and categories.[1]


The purpose of retail product profitability metrics is to assess the effectiveness and profitability of individual product and category sales. Retailers and distributors have a great deal of choice regarding which products to stock and which to discontinue as they make room for a steady stream of new offerings. By measuring the profitability of individual stock keeping units (SKUs), managers develop the insight needed to optimize such product selections. Profitability metrics are also useful in decisions regarding pricing, display, and promotional campaigns.

Specifically, the purpose of measuring markdowns is to determine whether channel sales are being made at planned margins. Markdowns are not always applied to slow-moving merchandise. Markdowns in excess of budget, however, are almost always regarded as indicators of errors in product assortment, pricing, or promotion. Markdowns are often expressed as a percentage of regular price. As a standalone metric, a markdown is difficult to interpret.

markdown definitionConstruction

This metric quantifies shop-floor reductions in the price of a SKU. It can be expressed on a per-unit basis or as a total for the SKU. It can also be calculated in dollar terms or as a percentage of the item’s initial price.

Markdown ($) = Initial price of SKU ($) – Actual sales price ($)

Markdown (%) = Markdown ($) ÷ Initial price of SKU ($)

An additional markdown is an increase of a previous markdown to further lower the selling price.

An early markdown is a markdown taken early in the season or while the demand for the merchandise is still relatively active.


For many products, a certain percentage of markdowns are expected. Too few markdowns may reflect “under-ordering.”

If markdowns are too high, the opposite may be true.

See also


  1. ^ Farris, Paul W.; Neil T. Bendle; Phillip E. Pfeifer; and David J. Reibstein (2010). Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance (Second Edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

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