Gap latest to throw holiday Hail Mary

The nearly 1,000 stores Gap Inc. operates under various nameplates that will be open on Thanksgiving are the latest indication of the extreme measures required of retailers to grow holiday sales during challenging and intensively competitive times.

Already the market has seen the likes of Target, Macy’s Kohl’s and Best Buy commit to opening stores at midnight on Black Friday, leaving as the next logical step is the opening of stores on Thanksgiving Day. And that is exactly what Gap intends to do with plans that call for the Thanksgiving Day opening of about 80% of its 958 U.S. Old Navy stores, 30 Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory stores, 116 Gap stores, 54 Banana Republic stores and eight Athleta stores. The company, which continues to experience weak sales trends, positioned the move as the continuation of a tradition.

“Our customers have given us terrific feedback about the option of getting a head start on their shopping on Thanksgiving Day,” said Tom Wyatt, president of Old Navy. “It’s a fun environment for the whole family, and a welcome excursion for those looking to get ahead or take a break from the holiday festivities. This is a win-win for our brand and our shoppers alike.”

Retailers already know American’s are inclined to shop on Thanksgiving Day given the spike in online traffic they see. Gap is simply tapping into that desire by giving shoppers a physical destination to visit as opposed to only a virtual one. Now that midnight Black Friday openings have become somewhat of a new normal operating standard for retailers this holiday season, it would seem only a matter of time before other retailers join with Gap in opening on Thanksgiving Day.

In addition, Gap Inc. has announced the launch of Shop Yourself Social, the company’s first cross-branded campaign designed to help shoppers cut through the online and social media deal frenzy and find the best deals on gifts they would love to give or get this holiday season. The campaign’s site,, offers real-time tips and tricks to get the most out of social shopping as well as convenient access to all five Gap Inc. brands’ social networking channels. Visitors to the site can find the latest feeds and information on each brand’s store openings, events and promotions.

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