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Once, Amazon was seen as overtaking the mall. Now, the mall is coming to Amazon.
The latest sign came Thursday, as Gap announced that it will begin selling apparel through Amazon Fashion.
Gap said that it will have a dedicated brand store on Amazon. The available apparel will include “basic, modern essentials for the family,” the brand said, including hoodies, T-shirts, denim, socks, underwear and sleepwear for adults, teens, kids and baby. Additionally, babyGap-branded items will be available, including nursery furniture and baby gear like strollers, bassinets, cribs and more.
Customers will be able to shop items by searching for “Gap,” and they will be available for delivery through Amazon’s Prime service.
“Collaborating with Amazon Fashion provides us a new channel to deliver Gap’s modern American essentials to even more customers in the U.S. and Canada," said Mark Breitbard, President and CEO, Gap brand. “We are excited to take this step with Amazon Fashion, to expand our product offering and to deepen our connection with consumers through the Gap brand store.”
The move comes as Gap is among a number of retailers that are seeking to move inventory as a result of a pileup that happened due to supply chain issues. There has also been a pullback at the retailer. Parent company Gap Inc. cut 500 corporate jobs earlier this year, and saw the exit of company CEO Sonia Syngal and Old Navy CEO Nancy Green.
Gap marks the latest brand to open an Amazon storefront this year, following Victoria’s Secret beauty and Peloton. There has long been a debate among retailers about signing on with the ecommerce giant. On the one hand, it draws massive traffic, and consumers may be already searching for a brand's products on the site, anyway. On the other hand, Amazon owns of consumer data, as well as the wholesale structure through the 1P arrangement. However, Amazon has appeared to position itself as being friendlier to the mall-based retailers it once disrupted. One new Prime service is delivering items from retail stores to nearby customers.
“At Amazon Fashion, we continuously expand our product offerings for our customers,” said Muge Erdirik Dogan, President of Amazon Fashion. “We’re excited to make shopping for Gap products even more convenient for customers with fast, free Prime delivery.”
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Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”