As if the retail sector wasn't fickle enough, the first half of the year threw it a number of curveballs.
After contending with port strikes, a long winter and the impact of a stronger dollar, retailers are hoping to move past the noise in the second half, when between back-to-school and the winter holidays, they really make their numbers.
While most retailers finally have merchandise that was tied up in delays from prolonged contract negotiations at the West Coast ports, a number of them have already increased clearance and promotional levels to clear through the backlog. Although this is a win for consumers, it will likely take a hit on those retailers' margins that have to sell goods for less than they'd planned.
For Gap in particular, the second half of the year could remain difficult. Not only is it slashing prices on merchandise that was late to stores because of the port congestion, but the product at its namesake Gap and Banana Republic stores has not resonated with shoppers.
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CEO Art Peck has instituted a number of changes, but because most of the holiday merchandise was ordered months in advance of the shift in design and strategy, Gap has warned investors not to expect much sales improvement at these two nameplates until spring.