Gap Inc., joining the growing list of fashion retailers reopening stores this month, will reopen up to 800 Old Navy, Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, Janie and Jack and Intermix stores before the end of May.
The specialty retailer said Thursday that the reopening strategy will start with “a small selection” of locations in Texas this weekend, and added its top priority remains the health and safety of employees, customers and communities.
Gap said it is working with local governments, led by health official guidelines, RILA and industry peers, to determine the when of store reopenings, and where it is safe to do so.
News of Gap’s advancing store openings is good news for many landlords, considering it means the retailer is likely to resume rent payments where stores get reopened, and other stores yet to reopened may be encouraged to do as they see Gap Inc. resuming brick-and-mortar operations. Last month Gap indicated in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had halted rent payments.
Many other retailers across the country, including Macy’s Inc., Saks Fifth Avenue, TJX & Cos. Inc., Neiman Marcus Group, Chico’s FAS, and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. in the past week or so have revealed the resumption of brick-and-mortar operations, to some degree or another. Depending on where states and local authorities have green-lighted the reopening of “nonessential” stores, in some locations stores have opened their doors for shopping, or shopping by appointment only, or providing curbside pickups of online orders.
“In working with industry partners and public officials to define safe shopping practices, we’re eager to begin welcoming our teams and customers back to our stores, and confident in our ability to safely scale North America openings over the coming months in line with local guidelines,” said Sonia Syngal, chief executive officer of Gap Inc. “We continue to use this crisis as an opportunity at every turn. As we leverage our stores as distribution hubs, lean into the meaningful acceleration of our online business and play forward the learnings from our Asia business where all locations are now open, we believe we’ll be well-positioned as this crisis subsides.”
The San Francisco-based specialty retailer ships online orders from about 1,000 of its stores and offers curbside pickups at 75 store locations. Both operations will be expanded in the coming months, the company said.
Among the health precautions being implemented by Gap Inc. are:
• “Rigorous” cleaning routines throughout each store, providing hand sanitizer stations at front doors and cash wraps, and temporarily closing fitting rooms.
• Supplying all team members with “high-quality” reusable face masks to wear during their shifts and encouraging customers to wear a face covering while shopping.
• Installing Plexiglass health guard partitions in front of registers and for mobile payments.
• Posting signage throughout the store encouraging customers to observe social distancing guidelines.
• Opening with reduced hours and actively monitoring the flow of customers in stores.
• Temporarily closing restrooms and quarantining returns for 24 hours before putting them back on the sales floor.
• Ensuring teams follow healthy hygiene habits such as frequent hand washing/sanitizing and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms before heading to work with a provided health checklist.