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Marks & Spencer sales down 2.2%

Marks & Spencer’s third quarter like-for-like sales fell 2.2% after trading was impacted in November by weaker consumer confidence, mild weather and competitors’ discounting.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Marks & Spencer sales down 2.2%

Marks & Spencer’s third quarter like-for-like sales fell 2.2% after trading was impacted in November by weaker consumer confidence, mild weather and competitors’ discounting.

In the 13 weeks to 29 December like-for-like food sales dropped by 2.1% while clothing and home sales declined by 2.4%.

International sales also suffered with a total sales fall of 15.1%.

Steve Rowe, M&S chief executive, said the retailer’s performance had remained steady in the period despite difficult market conditions. He added: “Our food business traded successfully over Christmas as customers responded to improved value. Our transformation programme remains on track.”

The company said the drop in clothing and home sales was a result of fewer people visiting its stores, which was partly due to the increasing speed of shop closures. Online sales grew by 14% in the category due to improvements made to the retailer’s online operations and proposition. Stock going into the end of season sale was down by around 25% following a planned reduction in stock levels

Meanwhile, M&S is continuing to lower its prices in its food business and remove what it described as complex and confusing multi-buy promotions. The company said there had been early signs of volume improvement with solid growth over the Christmas weeks.

M&S said the fall in international sales was partly a result of the sale of its Hong Kong business to its franchise partner and the closure of stores in loss making exit markets. Excluding these effects, international revenue declined by 1.4%.

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