US retail giant Gap said on Thursday that its sales slump would continue into the first half of this year, despite efforts to revive spring collections. Footfall in its stores had dropped 13 percent so far in February, and the group expects only a “modestly positive” sales turn in the second half of 2006. Group chief executive Paul Pressler said the company still believed that the changes made would win over customers eventually. “We believe that by making product improvements each season, our traffic will follow,” he said, adding that it would take time to see results.

During the fourth quarter, the company’s sales dropped 2 percent to $4.9 billion (£2.8 billion). Overall sales at the Gap and Old Navy brands in the US remained unchanged. International store sales fell $20 million to $439 million. Earnings for the quarter dropped to $337 million from $378 million during the same period the year before.

Pressler said that “none of us is satisfied with our overall 2005 business results…we pursued new approaches but did not deliver on expectations.” Last year, the company hired a new designer for the Gap brand and appointed new executives to head up its children’s clothing, maternity and Gap Body units. The group did reveal that online sales had increased 20 percent during the fourth quarter as a result of the redesign of its three brand websites.