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The Gap Converts Factories to Produce Masks, Gowns, and Surgical Scrubs

By Rich Smith - Mar 25, 2020 at 1:57PM

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Clothes stores probably aren't essential, so Gap finds another way to make money.

It's been 10 days since retail clothing chain The Gap (GPS 2.71%) announced a "temporary reduction" in store hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a week since Gap temporarily closed down all of its Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Janie and Jack, and Intermix stores across North America. Even if it had not chosen to do this voluntarily, the company, as a non-essential service, likely would have been shut down by government order.

Gap said during the period the stores will be closed, it will continue to pay its employees, and pay for their benefits as well.  

But how is Gap to make the money it needs to pay its workers? Maybe by taking up a supporting role in the fight against the coronavirus itself.

3-D rendering of viruses on a red background

Image source: Getty Images.

Late Tuesday night, Gap tweeted an announcement describing how it plans to pivot its production away from khakis and casual shirts to manufacturing masks, gowns and scrubs, for healthcare workers.

Gap hasn't provided additional details on the initiative yet, but assuming it is not giving away these goods for free, the clothing retailer appears to have found a new market for a different type of "clothing" that it can manufacture and sell to the people working to contain the coronavirus.

In one fell swoop, this could help to restore revenues lost to the coronavirus shutdowns, while generating positive PR for the company and helping to end the crisis that has wrecked American retail this month -- accelerating the date at which Gap can get back to selling the kinds of clothes it has always sold in the past.

Shares of The Gap are up 15.4% as of 12:55 p.m. EDT on the news.

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