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Gap says key sales measure falls in March due to Easter shift but stands by full-year forecast

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SAN FRANCISCO — Gap Inc. said Thursday that a key sales measure fell more in March than the market had expected, partly because of bad winter weather.

Shares of the San Francisco-based company, which owns the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands, fell nearly 3 percent in after-hours trading following the announcement.

Gap said its revenue for stores open at least a year fell 6 percent. This is considered a key indicator of a retailer's financial performance as it strips away the impact of recently opened and closed sites. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were anticipated a drop of 4.7 percent.

The results included a 7 percent drop at its Gap stores, 4 percent drop at Banana Republic and 7 percent drop at Old Navy.

Gap had already warned investors that a shift of the Easter holiday into April this year, from March last year, would hinder its sales for the month. The company reported total revenue of $1.51 billion for the five-week period that ended April 5.

Company Chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy said that while March was challenging, the company remains confident and reaffirmed its full-year forecast. But the company also warned that first-quarter gross margins will be lower than last year, due in part to the rough winter in much of the country and high inventory levels.

Shares fell 69 cents to close at $39.29 Thursday and dropped $1.15 to $38.14 in after-hours trading.

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