updated 8/31/2005 9:31:46 PM ET 2005-09-01T01:31:46

Already mired in a sales slump, Gap Inc. has closed its two most popular Internet stores so the clothing retailer can upgrade its online operations before the pivotal holiday shopping season.

Both Gap.com and OldNavy.com have been closed for the past week, driving frustrated shoppers like Kira Storch of San Francisco to other Web sites to buy clothes.

"I just felt stymied," the 33-year-old Storch said. "I thought most Web sites only shut down during the middle of the night."

Banana Republic, another chain owned by Gap, also closed its site two days last week before reopening Aug. 26.

Hoping to minimize the customer inconvenience, Gap waited until after most back-to-school shopping had been finished before launching a "soup-to-nuts" overhaul of its major e-commerce sites, said company spokeswoman Kris Marubio. She said the changes were too complex to enable the site to continue running.

"We think this is going to make for a more compelling and exciting experience for shoppers," Marubio said.

The San Francisco-based company isn't saying when the sites will reopen. Instead, visitors are being asked to leave their e-mail addresses so they can be informed when the sites are selling clothes again.

The continuing closure of Gap.com and OldNavy.com is likely to put another small dent in Gap's sales, which have been sagging in recent months. Gap.com and OldNavy.com accounted for 3 percent of the company's total revenues last year.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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