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Marks & Spencer hit by clothing sales slump in key Christmas period | Business

Marks & Spencer stated its clothes gross sales dropped by 1 / 4 over the important thing Christmas buying and selling interval because the retailer was hit onerous by retailer closures on the again of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The outlook for buying and selling “stays very difficult” as a result of the newest lockdown might final till Easter, the retailer stated.

Gross sales of clothes and homeware slumped by 24.1% within the 13 weeks to 26 December. The determine mirrored a close to halving of retailer gross sales, which was partially offset by a similar-sized surge in on-line gross sales. The restrictions on socialising over Christmas meant that the large sellers had been pyjamas and jogging bottoms fairly than celebration outfits.

Marks & Spencer’s meals halls fared higher, with gross sales at shops open one 12 months up 2.6%. That determine rose to nearly 6% when the affect of the closure of its giant community of in-store cafes was stripped out. On the identical foundation, gross sales had been up 8.7% within the 4 weeks earlier than Christmas when the affect of closures was eliminated.

Steve Rowe, the chief govt, stated the corporate’s efficiency was “strong”, given the “on-off restrictions” and massive adjustments in what buyers had been shopping for. He added that “beneath the Covid clouds” was a really robust efficiency from its meals halls and bettering tendencies in its clothes arm, which was struggling earlier than the disaster.

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The retailer stated its worldwide enterprise had additionally been hit onerous by pandemic restrictions, with gross sales down 10.4%. It additionally warned that the enterprise was struggling due to Brexit. It confronted potential tariffs on a few of the merchandise it exports to the EU in addition to a really complicated administrative course of that might “considerably affect” its operations in Eire, the Czech Republic and France.

M&S slumped to a pre-tax loss of £87.6m within the first six months of its monetary 12 months after its clothes gross sales had been hit onerous by pandemic-related retailer closures. The chain is a vital retailer however its meals halls haven’t skilled the identical gross sales uplifts as the most important supermarkets as a result of many are comfort shops in at present empty metropolis centres and practice stations.

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