When Gap Inc.’s stores open back up by the end of the month, customers are going to see notable changes in its service and product offerings.
The San Francisco-based firm — which plans to reopen 800 of its owned-outposts, including namesake Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Janie and Jack, Athleta and Intermix locations this May — has announced a series of safety measures amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Stores will be outfitted with hand-sanitizing stations, plexiglass partitions will be installed at registers and signage will be posted throughout the floor to encourage social distancing. Fitting rooms and restrooms will also remain closed, while customers will be advised to make use of contactless or mobile payment options.
What’s more, Gap Inc. has launched curbside pickup in 75 locations and intends to expand the program — as well as its ship-to-store service, currently at 1,000 outposts — in the coming months.
“We continue to use this crisis as an opportunity at every turn,” said CEO Sonia Syngal. “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.”
Beyond these new services, Gap Inc. will begin selling personal protective equipment at its stores: Banana Republic and Gap were the first two in its family of brands to offer face masks — both of which the company said sold out in less than an hour. Athleta currently has masks for sale online, while Old Navy and Janie and Jack are expected to soon sell them as well. (The masks are made from excess fabric at the company’s factories, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity.)
Starting this weekend, some of Gap Inc.’s stores in Texas are slated to reopen. (The company operates more than 3,300 units around the world, and the majority of them are in North America.) It shuttered its stores across the United States in mid-March, leading to the furloughs of most of its workers and reductions in headcount across its corporate functions. Its entire leadership team and board of directors also took pay cuts.
Two weeks ago, the company informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had already burned through half of its cash reservoir and warned that it might not have enough money to survive the next year. In order to continue funding operations, Gap Inc. said it would have to seek additional sources of liquidity, including a combination of new debt financing or other short-term credit facility.
“There can be no assurance that we will successfully complete these actions,” the retailer said at the time. “There are no comparable recent events that provide guidance as to the effect the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic may have, and as a result, the ultimate impacts of the outbreak on our business and the steps we may need to take to address those impacts are highly uncertain and subject to change.”