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Gap and Urban Outfitters Had a Bummer Holiday Season

Yep. Things were indeed hard for retailers this winter.
Trying to sell parkas in 60 degree weather is like being a Stromtrooper on Jakku. Photo: "Star Wars"

Trying to sell parkas in 60 degree weather is like being a Stromtrooper on Jakku. Photo: "Star Wars"

With unseasonably warm temperatures discouraging shoppers from snapping up winter-ready parkas, scarves and boots, it wasn't an easy holiday season for apparel retailers at large — in fact, they lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars due to weather alone. On Thursday, Gap and Urban Outfitters released their individual sales figures for the past few months, affirming that the struggle was indeed real.

Over at Urban Outfitters, sales across all its brands — UO, Anthropologie, Bhldn, Free People and Terrain — flatlined during the crucial shopping period of November through December, with comparable store sales (those for all the locations that have been open a full year) dropping 2 percent overall. Within its portfolio, Free People performed better than most with comparable sales growing 2 percent, while Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie decreased by the same amount.

During December, Gap experienced similarly sluggish trends: Comparable sales for the month sunk 5 percent relative to the same period a year ago, when sales rose 1 percent. Even Old Navy, which typically performs much better than the Gap brand according to the company's financial reports, was hit hard, with comparable sales down 7 percent (compared to growth of 8 percent last year); Gap's 2 percent decrease this year compares to a 5 percent decrease last year.

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Elsewhere in the industry, brands are already releasing their spring campaigns and showing pre-fall collections. For retailers, too, it seems the future can't come soon enough.