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.
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.