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February 12, 2013

GAP: Clean in the front, messy in the back

by besshundley3

There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about the Gap Inc.’s recent gain in sales due to an investment in colorful jeans and swanky suits despite having struggled for years in the highly competitive retail world. According to the WSJ, the company had an 8% increase in sales for January and a 6.4% increase in net sales over the past year. The retailer’s efforts to make its supply chain more efficient and sell the latest trends can be attributed to their recent success. In particular, Gap focused on selling trendy, colorful jeans as well as offering a collection of sleek suits from their Banana Republic stores which mirror the attire from the hit show “Mad Men”.

 I was surprised by the positive outlook the WSJ forecasted for the apparel retailer because of a recent negative experience I had at a Gap store. I don’t remember the last time I went into a Gap but I decided to run into one to browse through their clothes after walking by one of their stores this past weekend. The front of the store was set up nicely with organized racks and colorful collections of sweaters and pants. I must say it is what first grabbed my attention and made me want to enter the store. I grabbed a few items to try on and proceeded to the back of the store to look at other merchandise. Unfortunately, the back of the store was not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the layout in the front.

 Clothes were strewn all over the tables in a messy manner and rarely did I see a layout with neatly, folded apparel. When I had first entered the store I was immediately approached by a welcoming employee but as I ventured to the back I had a hard time asking for assistance. The sales section was so unorganized that it was unnavigable. Clothes had fallen off of their hangers and were scattered on the floor. There was no sense of organization in regards to size or style.

 The difference in service between the front of the store and the back was difficult to ignore. I understand that the newer, more expensive collections are typically placed on display in the front in order to lure customers in but consistency throughout the store is vital for customers to stay and actually purchase something. I understand this one Gap store can not be representative of the entire company but that one bad experience has given me incentive to make an effort to not return.

 So yes, according to the WSJ, Gap may have had a recent gain in sales but I would be interested in seeing if they have reaped any profit from sales of their basic collections and items on sale, the merchandise sold at the back of the store.

 Source: Karen Talley and Dana Mattioli. “At GAP, Sales Gains Are Back In Style” Wall Street Journal. February 11, 2013.

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