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Gap and Banana Republic Did Not Have a Happy Easter

Weak sales means there is excess inventory coming into April.
Gap spring 2016 campaign. Photo: Gap

Gap spring 2016 campaign. Photo: Gap

Gap Inc. had a very rough March. The company's total sales reached $1.4 billion in the five weeks ending on April 2 and comparable sales were down 6 percent from last year. (In this period last year, the company experienced a 2 percent bump.) Banana Republic was hit the hardest even though CEO Art Peck said in February that it had the highest foot traffic of all the brands: comparable sales declined a whopping 14 percent. It could be worse. Oh wait, it was, in January, when comparable sales dropped 17 percent

Meanwhile at Gap brand, March comparable sales declined 3 percent while the usually robust Old Navy's declined 6 percent. In an earnings call, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations Jack Calanda said decreased traffic overall was a problem, as was a softer-than-expected Easter. He did say that customers are responding positively to Gap's spring assortment, though apparently not with their wallets. (Peck described it as optimistic, feminine for women and masculine for men.)

A rough month will probably beget another rough month: the company is entering April with more inventory that planned, which it expects will "pressure gross margin rate in the first quarter." You know what that means: sales, sales, sales. 

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