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Gap has a tough March

Because the Easter holiday is in April this year rather than in March as it was last year, Gap already expected March to be a challenging month performance-wise.  

The retailer reported net sales of $1.5 billion for the five-week period ended April 5. Comparable sales for March were down 6% versus a 1 % decrease last year.

“While March performance has been challenging, we remain confident in the opportunities ahead,” said chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy. “We are pleased to reaffirm our full-year EPS guidance range.”

Comparable sales at Gap decreased 7% versus remaining flat last year. At Banana Republic, comparable sales decreased 4% versus last year’s 1% increase. And at Old Navy, comparable sales decreased 7% versus a 2% decrease last year.

The company expects gross margins for the first quarter to be below the prior year by more than the year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013. In addition, given ongoing expense management, the company expects first quarter operating expenses to be flat to last year.

The company reaffirmed its previous full-year earnings per share guidance range of $2.90 to $2.95 for fiscal 2014. It will report April sales May 8.