Monday, October 11, 2010

Can you smell the desperation at the Gap?

First there was the Gap Groupon. Yes, it was so popular it crashed, but going in a couple of weeks ago to spend my Groupon bucks was hard--I couldn't find any inspiring pieces among the messy displays and ended up stocking up on black and white basics.

Then today, a 40% off storewide sales promotion was announced. I figured this was my opportunity to score the black pants I'd been eyeing for nearly half off (Gap card buyers saved 45%), so I slipped into the Oak Park location before my podiatrist appointment. The checkout line was 15 people deep and it took 3 cashiers 25 minutes to get to me. The store was shockingly understaffed and looked like it was under siege.  Had I not been under a time crunch, I would have rummaged through the children's sale racks and brought an armful of clothes to the register like the rest of the shoppers.

So why, so close on the heels of its much ballyhooed Groupon would the Gap offer a fire-sale to the masses? Given that the sale was announced via Facebook, blogs and signs outside the stores, I don't think it was planned very far in advance. Which makes me wonder it if was a tactic to clear slow-moving merchandise from the stores before the holiday sales push or to divert attention from the giant marketing blunder the Gap made earlier this week when it launched a universally hated (and really, truly awful) redesign of its logo. 

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Gap also announced it is scrapping its new logo late today.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing the Gap's holiday advertising. They still have time to remove the offensive Helvetica monstrosity from TV commercials, but magazine ads may have already been turned in. Furthermore, having cheapened their brand through aggressive discounting and showing a shocking lack of design chops to an increasingly discriminating public, selling scarves and cashmere sweaters at full retail price is going to be an uphill battle.