LOS ANGELES — Gap Inc. is offering discounts on spring merchandise at Gap and Old Navy stores, prompting some watchers to wonder whether sales are already falling short of expectations.

Shoppers registered online got word on Tuesday of the sale, which gives them a 20 percent break on Gap merchandise with purchases of $75 or more. The sale is valid through Feb. 25 and in stores only. Old Navy shoppers can expect 10 percent off purchases of $50 and another 15 percent off purchases of $75 or more until March 3. Banana Republic is not involved in the campaign.

This is a critical season for the retailer, which is in the midst of a tough financial spell, according to some analysts.

But a Gap spokeswoman said the promotion had been planned for some time and is not a reaction to any early reads on spring sales.

“The intent is really as an added value to our online shoppers,” she remarked. “I would also add that it will help drive traffic to the stores from our online customers.”

Early spring merchandise first hit Gap and Old Navy stores on Feb. 6. A second spring shipment is scheduled for March 17.

Dana Cohen, an analyst at Banc of America Securities, noted that companies would not typically offer such a sale after only a few weeks of selling, even if those sales are lagging.

“I think spring is an important time to show at least some improvement versus fall,” she said. “But people don’t expect a huge improvement. If they can take 20 percent off and drive sales, that theoretically would be more profitable than what they are currently doing.”

Gap sees spring as the first of many steps in its evolution.

After fall’s emphasis on trendier merchandise that was “too narrow in focus,” the spokeswoman said, Gap has returned to basics like khakis, oxford shirts, polo shirts and jeans. Old Navy is taking a similar course.

“We’ve stated that fall moved away from our core customer,” she said. “Spring is a return to that customer.”

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus