Both Gap and Express cater to customers with similar likes – working professionals with fashion aspirations and desire for good quality on a budget.
Both stores have been facing some tough times recently and losing business to online ordering and subscription boxes. Consumers often complain about decreasing quality and rising prices. To overcome such hurdles both traditional retailers are gravitating more towards online business and are scheduled to close some brick-and-mortar stores in the coming year.
We wanted to compare those both fashion houses and to see which one comes on top and why. There have to be reasons for their survival for those of us that still enjoy going to the store to touch and try clothes before buying.
We started with Gap in Crystal Cove Shopping Center at Newport Beach.
Gap in Crystal Cove Shopping Center at Newport Beach.
First of all, let us marvel at the location for a bit here! The store is gorgeous and of course it has the views around it so beautiful that you might forget what you came there for. The entire building is white, looks big, and very inviting. Welcome to California, baby, where even locals love to take a drive to this location just to enjoy the view!
Once we got done with the views, we immediately saw the 60% off markdowns sign and remembered what we came there for. There was also a 40% off sale on essential tees. These types of sales are very common at Gap stores, so you can expect to find a sale anytime you go in. Frequent sales like that enable Gap to sell fast and bring in new inventory to keep up with rapidly changing fashion styles.
We love the fact that the retailer is very supportive of all kinds of minorities and they definitely display that love with rainbow tees and gender-neutral merchandise.
Gap is definitely known for its signature denim, and this store is full of jeans and jackets that go great with all 30% off t-shirts.
There is also a big athletic wear section with leggings and shirts for 30%. Sleepwear section is also discounted by 30%.
All of those goodies are displayed in the space that is beautifully decorated, very well lit, bright, and easy to navigate. The store definitely has a modern feel to it.
- Extra 10% Off Your First Order
- Free Shipping on All Orders
- 25% OFF your order
As you would expect from Gap, most models were simple, quiet, fit for all and for every occasion. What the store lacked in put-together styles and mannequins, it made up for with plentiful discounts.
Most of the store was on sale, but there was also a sales rack at the back of the store with all items below $19.99. Gap card holders were offered 20% off their order and we also saw signs inviting to become a Bright Rewards member for free. Card members get 5 points for every $1 spent and reward members receive 2 points for $1.
We also loved friendly staff, but did find them a bit slow and too relaxed to start a fitting room for us when we started getting too many clothes in our hands.
The fitting rooms were also in a need of sweeping and this sentiment has been reiterated many times in the online reviews about this store. People also complained about a few rude managers, but we did not experience anything like that on our visit.
Next we went to Express store in Costa Mesa.
Express store in Costa Mesa
The location was not as spectacular as the Gap store’s, but it’s still California, so it’s still nice. The store also featured plenty of sale signs everywhere and clothes that will take you to the office looking sharp and then straight to that happy hour party with an extra accessory or two.
Relaxed fit pants and stylish shirts met us first, with a sign saying that everybody will get 20% off with a newly opened Express Next Credit Card.
We loved the styled mannequins and many color-coordinated outfit displays. We are not all equally good at throwing together a killer outfit, so visuals definitely help and we found more of them here than at Gap.
Just like at Gap, pretty much every section had a sale of some sort going. Work pants were Buy One, Get One ½ Off. Men’s jeans, jackets, and pants went for $19 apiece.
Mix & Match tops also went for Buy One, Get One ½ off. We enjoyed the section for accessories, which seemed larger than Gap’s.
- 15% OFF Orders
- Free Shipping on Orders $50+
- 50% OFF Clearance items
We saw a sign explaining the 2 tiers of the rewards program Express Next. The first tier is Member and the second is A-List, which you become after collecting over 7,500 points. The only difference between those two tiers is that members get $10 reward for 2,500 points and A-listers get $15. Every $1 spent will give 10 points for both.
Express is also very generous with monthly coupons, which customers receive via mail or email. They have a limited expiration, but can be 15-20% off the entire order, so definitely worth it.
Birthday gift is also sent to both tiers of rewards program members. Credit card holders get 20% off the first time they use it and then extra perks in the future.
Express customer service was just as good as Gap’s and we found fitting rooms cleaner. In reviews people complain of difficulties with return orders and impatient managers, but we loved our experience while there and really enjoyed all the advice we got from the staff.
In conclusion, we feel that both stores did great and made it very hard to determine the winner. We would probably go with Gap for casual clothing and with Express for work fashion, but that decision is by no means iron-clad.