Gap Closing Scores of Stores
Pre-recession boom left surplus of shops
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 14, 2011 8:50 AM CDT
Mannequins sit in the window of a GAP store on October 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Gap, once the king of clothing chains, rapidly expanded before the recession; afterward, it found itself with more stores than shoppers. Now it plans to close 189 of its North American locations—more than a fifth of the total—by 2013, leaving some 700 remaining, the Wall Street Journal reports. Gap didn't reveal which stores would be shuttered, but a rep explained that leases of tired stores won't be renewed, a move that will inject 2 million square feet of empty retail space into the market.

Gap also had some fashion trouble: The chain has struggled to launch appealing styles and was behind the times on trends like high-end jeans, the Journal notes. Its profits in the first half of 2011 were at $422 million, down 21% from a year before. Gap's departure is more bad news for struggling malls; the chain is the top non-department store tenant for the country's biggest mall landlords. But the chain isn't shrinking everywhere—it's planning to keep growing in China, for example. Meanwhile, 50 new Gap outlet stores are on their way.
 

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