Apparel giant Gap suffered lower December net and same-store sales, affected by traffic trends at all three of the company's brands.

Five-week net sales were down 5% to US$2.4bn from $2.6bn in the same period last year. Same-store sales were down 9% for the month compared with a 1% fall the December before.

Gap North America same-store sales fell 10% compared to a 1% rise last year, Banana Republic North America same-store sales fell 5% compared to a 2% decrease in 2004, Old Navy North America same-store sales plummeted 10% compared to a 1% slip a year ago, and Gap International same-store sales fell 3% compared to an 8% fall last year.

Sabrina Simmons, Gap senior vice president, treasury and investor relations, said: "During December, traffic trends at all three brands continued to drive negative same-store sales.

"However, we are pleased that fewer markdowns in the month resulted in merchandise margins slightly above those of last year."
  
Year-to-date net sales of $15.1 bn for the 48 weeks ended 31 December 2005 decreased 2% compared with net sales of $15.4bn for the same period ended 1 January 2005.

The company's year-to-date same-store sales decreased 5 percent compared with a 1 percent increase in the prior year.
   
Gap said it remains comfortable with the annual earnings-per-share guidance that it provided in its third-quarter earnings release of $1.12 to $1.17, and through December, the company is trending to the upper-end of this range.
   
The group launched its new chain Forth and Towne - which aimed at women 35 and over - in August.