Placer Bytes: Gap, Old Navy and Ross Dress for Less

In this Placer Bytes we break down the data surrounding three major apparel retailers – Gap, Old Navy and Ross Dress for Less. 

Gap & Old Navy

Gap was in the headlines quite a bit toward the end of the 2019 and beginning of 2020, with news that it called off plans to spin-off its Old Navy brand, and would be closing hundreds of stores globally in the next two years.  So, as Gap goes through some changes, we dove into the most recent data to see how the brand is recovering. 

Visits for Gap were on the rise the week of July 6th, with traffic down 29.1% year over year – inching closer to pre-COVID levels.  However, with a resurgence of COVID cases around the country, traffic decreased to 31.9% down year over year for the week of July 13th and dropped even farther away from 2019 levels for the week of July 20th and July 27th, with traffic down 39.3% and 40.6% respectively. 

But, the week of August 3rd showed promise with visits jumping to just 34.7% down year over year, marking this the third best week measured, and the best since the week of July 13th.  Visits are still far off from pre-COVID levels for the retailer, but visits are seemingly back on the right track as of early August. 

And similar to its parent company, visits for Old Navy seem to have plateaued since mid-July.  While the week of July 6th drew visits that were closest to 2019 levels at just 23.9% down, each consecutive week has dropped farther and farther away from 2019 levels.  Visits for the week of July 20th was 29.8% below year over year, and dropped significantly to 35.6% for the week of July 27th, the lowest traffic week among the ones measured. 

And like Gap, Old Navy saw a more promising start to August. Even with newly imposed nationwide rules regarding mask regulations within stores, starting August 1st, visits for the first week of August were just down just 34.3% year over year – an improvement on the week prior. Traffic has certainly been impacted by the increase in COVID cases, and visits for the brand are still far below 2019 levels. The key for both brands could rest on a continued recovery from COVID and a strengthened back-to-school season.

Ross Dress for Less 

Relative to the rest of the apparel category, Ross has been outperforming since the COVID outbreak due to its unique value proposition and unique brand relationship. The discount retailer was off to a strong 2020 start, with year-over-year monthly traffic up 13.3% and 21.0% in January and February, respectively.  But visits bottomed out in April, during the spread of the coronavirus. 

If the pace of recovery for the brand is any sign of how the brand will perform over the next few months, things are looking positive for Ross. The week of July 20th garnered visits that were just 25.9% down, year over year.  And while, traffic dipped ever so slightly for the following week to 26.7%, visits bounced back to just 23.6% down, year over year for the first week of August, the best week measured, and the closest visits have been to pre-COVID levels.  

With the country being in an unfortunate and uncertain economic state, Ross has a unique opportunity to generate significant traffic with its low pricing model. 

Back-to-School Context

Yet, when analyzing any brands that normally see strength during the back-to-school season, there is a critical context to consider. This period in 2019 was exceptionally strong so declines in year-over-year visits are not just driven by the COVID recovery but also by the heights back-to-school shopping reached in 2019. The graph below shows week-over-week growth for all of the brands analyzed, a clear indication of their recovery. 

Will August be the start of a positive traffic trend for these apparel giants?  Check back in with to find out.

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