Gap closes high profile Boston shop
By Angel Jennings and Erich Schwartzel
Globe Correspondents / September 3, 2008
The Gap Inc. quietly closed the doors to its Newbury Street store last Wednesday, becoming the latest tenant to leave the popular Boston shopping destination.
Without any fanfare, the retailer closed its location at 201 Newbury St., leaving the storefront, which was once adorned with mannequins dressed in Gap clothes, empty. Four signs hanging outside the shop yesterday read: "This Gap location is closed."
Gap spokeswoman Kris Marubio would not disclose why the store closed. "We vacated it last week but customers can shop at nearby Copley Place, Faneuil Hall, or CambridgeSide [Galleria]," she said.
The Gap is the latest store to abandon the trendy shopping district in the Back Bay. In recent years, shops that line Newbury Street have seen sharp increases in rent as chain stores such as H&M and Victoria's Secret replace trendy boutiques. In May, luxury retailer Louis Boston said it would not renew its lease when it expires in 2010.
Like other specialty retailers, Gap Inc. - the parent company of Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic - has been hurt as consumers squeezed by the slowing economy, higher gas and food costs, and a weak job market have been spending less on clothes and other nonessential items.
Gap saw a surge in sales in the 1990s when American offices moved toward a more casual dress code and workers snagged its khakis and polo shirts. But recently, Gap has faced increasing competition from retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch and discounters Target and Wal-Mart. To remain fresh and current, last year the Gap hired designer Patrick Robinson to help revitalize the brand.
The San Francisco-based retailer, which has had sluggish sales at all of its brands, also has been trying to boost its earnings by cutting inventory, reducing costs, and closing and downsizing stores. In the fiscal second quarter, ended May 3, Gap reported a 10 percent decrease in sales at stores open at least a year. In June, chief executive Glenn Murphy said he aimed to close some stores and downsize others; the Newbury Street location is just one of 115 stores Gap said it plans to close in fiscal 2008.
Christina Wright, 26, of the Back Bay walked yesterday to the Newbury Street Gap to buy a turquoise cashmere sweater that she had seen at another location only to discover the store was closed. "I just hope they do something good with the space because obviously this is an important street for Boston."