It's true. Some pretty important technology companies report earnings this week. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU), and Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) all are worth watching. However, one sector will really be coming out in force over the next few days -- the retailers.

It makes sense. Many retailers end their fiscal years in January in order to most accurately gauge their peak holiday selling seasons. Wrapping up in December wouldn't cut it because one has to weigh in gift returns and the inventory clearing sales that follow.

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP), TJX (NYSE:TJX), and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) will represent the department store chains. Gap (NYSE:GPS) is as good a bellwether as any when it comes to specialty retailing. You also have companies like Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD) that don't march to the same seasonal drum. All post their financials this week.

Gap is one that especially merits watching. After three straight years of same-store sales declines, the company turned the beat around last year. Earnings more than doubled on a 7% spike in comps. However, those lofty achievements pale when stacked up against the company's 1999 performance.

On the one hand, no one expected the reinvigoration of the company's Old Navy, Banana Republic, and namesake concepts to happen overnight. On the other hand, we're now in the second year of the healing process. A lot is at stake for the company that once stitched a golden reputation on stacks of denim and khakis.

Have you been shopping at the Gap lately? How have things changed during the tenure of CEO Paul Pressler? Is the company back for keeps? All this and more -- in the Gap discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz fell into the gap once. He proceeded to claw his way out. He does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.