Gap, Banana Republic Stores Closing

Retailers, fearing the weakest holiday shopping season since 1969, have slashed prices on items at stores across the country.

Gap Inc. will close roughly 200 poorly performing Gap and Banana Republic stores in the next three years, the clothing company announced Wednesday.

The locations set for closure have not yet been announced, but are considered ‘underperforming’.

Speaking at a retail conference Wednesday, Gap CEO Art Peck described the sales downturns at Gap and Banana Republic as “significant and acute”, and admitted the company made “creative missteps” in its efforts to keep the brands competitive.

Gap has about 1,200 Gap and Banana Republic stores in the USA, including both a Gap and Banana Republic at Spokane’s River Park Square. Last month, Sears Holdings added another 28 Kmart locations to its list of 330 Sears and Kmart stores that it has already shuttered or plans to close by the end of this year.

Gap Inc. says it will shift its focus to its growing brands Old Navy and Athleta, and away from the Gap and Banana Republic. GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said in an August note that he remains skeptical of the company’s ongoing progress, noting that Old Navy’s continued strength is masking underlying troubles at its other brands.

The nation’s largest specialty apparel retailer had decided that its future growth lies primarily in its lower-priced Old Navy and athleisure-positioned Athleta brands.

Meanwhile, Old Navy sales are expected to surpass the $10-billion mark in the next few years, while Athleta will top the $1-billion sales plateau.

The company added that it plans to continue making “significant” investments in its online operations, including in artificial intelligence technology.

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