Retailers, consumers and prices
With retailers worried over the prospects for the holiday season (The Commerce Department said on Friday that retail sales slumped 2.8 percent in October — the largest decline since the department’s current methodology was adopted in 1992), they are expanding their definition of friends and family.
While “Friend & Family” sales used to be special events actually reserved for the friends and family members of a retailer’s employees, today it takes little more than an e-mail address to be considered a retailer’s friend.
Right now, Gap (seen in picture above) is touting its “Friend and Family” sale. The event began yesterday and offers shoppers 30 percent off in its Gap, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Stores, and Old Navy stores. The sale ends Nov 16.
Meanwhile, Restoration Hardware is also holding a “Friends and Family Event” offering 20 percent off everything from Nov 13-16. Soma Intimates by Chico’s is touting 25 percent off “absolutely everything” for its friends and family this weekend.
Check out Old Navy sales getting torpedoed from within.
There’s a lot of weakness out there as retailers report March sales today, with cold, wet weather keeping the already skittish consumer from the stores.
But one chain that stands out is Gap’s Old Navy division, which is looking more like McHale’s Navy than a mighty Armada.
The unit posted a 27-percent decline in same-store sales in March and at least some of the damage appears to be self-inflicted.
A company spokesman said on a recorded message that the brand has put too much emphasis on women’s fashion, at the expense of more basic items. He said the company plans to adjust the mix to achieve more of a balance.
But Old Navy has a tough course to navigate as it faces competition form a host of other brands that also sell basic apparel for the family, like shorts, cargo pants and T-shirts.
The company brought in well-known designer Todd Oldham last fall as creative director and in February the division’s president, Dawn Robertson, left Gap in what the company called a mutual decision. Tom Wyatt, president of Gap Inc’s outlet division, took over while a search for a permanent replacement was launched.
But will Old Navy’s new skipper find anything seaworthy?