As much as we like their perfect t-shirts and cotton underthings, the past few years have been rough on the Gap. Sales have fallen, executives come on board only to leave shortly thereafter, and stores like H&M are always lurking on the horizon to snatch up more of their shoppers. Well now the once-and-future-khaki-king has decided to take some drastic measures; they’re closing a quarter of their North American stores.
The news hit just this week that the Gap will be closing 175 stores in total, with 140 of them closing before January. That will leave 500 stores and 300 outlets, which will remain open for your shopping needs. Although some will be closed in Europe, the majority of the stores closing will be in the United States. Along with the closures, about 250 corporate jobs around the country will be eliminated. All in all, these measures are estimated to save the company $25 million a year starting in 2016. The hope is that this will resuscitate what is right now a flailing brand.
“We’re changing the way we bring product to market, taking out redundancies . . . within the organization,” Global Brand President Jeff Kirwan told The New York Times.
The Gap definitely has some areas to improve given the way fashion retail is changing. With the rise of fast fashion, like H&M and Forever 21, mid-tier stores like the Gap are struggling to stay competitive. (FYI the same thing is happening to J. Crew.) There is also the fact that the Gap is perceived as a mall store, and malls just aren’t that popular anymore.
“We know where we have issues in the assortment,” Gap’s chief executive Art Peck told the New York Times. “And we know that those issues have to do with a lack of femininity, particular silhouettes that we have that [women don’t] find flattering. And there’s a lack of optimism in the brand, which shows up as a very tight and muted color palette, and a lack of print and pattern.” Fair, I guess. The Gap could do with a little bit of an update.
Jessica Bornn, a senior analyst at the retail research firm Merchant Forecast, elaborated to the New York Times about the whole mall thing explaining that so many stores in shopping malls is bad news for the company, as fewer shoppers are spending time in malls now than they were in the Gap’s 1990’s heyday.
Bornn also spoke to USA Today about the brand’s need for more contemporary collections, “Right now they’re basically like a ship without a captain. There’s no major creative design force behind the collection. They haven’t interpreted any of the trends of the season.”
At the moment, things are looking bleak for the Gap. But that doesn’t mean they can’t bounce back and we have total faith that they will. We NEED quality, cotton staples in our lives. Can’t the Gap go back to giving us the best version of those?