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Denim Wars: Who Has the Best Deal for Back to School?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Denim despair or delight? It depends who you ask.

As cotton prices soared earlier in the year, retailers were left scrambling on how they would handle the pricier fiber this fall. For denim in particular, in which cotton makes up about 55% of the total cost, this is an even bigger issue for the all-important back-to-school season.

Denim is one of the most important categories for back to school, constituting as much as 25% of sales for some retailers.

According to Brean Murray analyst Eric Beder, five retailers in his coverage universe raised denim prices to offset higher cotton costs, while four decreased ticket prices this back-to-school season.

>Back-to-School 2011: 4 Items That Will Cost More

It's clear that average unit prices on denim have ticked up, but with price at the forefront of shoppers' minds for back-to-school season most retailers are offering compelling promotions to distract from the increase in original prices.

"The combination of rising costs placing pressure on margins, and retailers slashing average unit retail to drive traffic is a formula for margin deterioration for those who do not have the higher margin international presence," Beder wrote in a note.

Here's a look at how retailers are handling denim prices and where to find the deepest promotions.

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