Monday, January 18

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Marks & Spencer said its apparel sales fell by a quarter during the key Christmas trading period as the retailer was hit hard by store closures due to the Covid-19 shutdown.

The outlook for trade “remains very challenging” because the latest lockdown could last until Easter, the retailer said.

Sales of clothing and household goods plummeted 24.1% in the 13 weeks to December 26. The figure reflected a nearly half reduction in store sales, which was partially offset by a similar size increase in online sales. The restrictions on socializing during Christmas meant that the big sellers were pajamas and sweatpants rather than party outfits.

Marks & Spencer’s food halls outperformed, with sales at stores open for one year up 2.6%. That figure rose to nearly 6% when the impact of the closure of its large network of in-store cafes was removed. On the same basis, sales rose 8.7% in the four weeks before Christmas when the impact of the closings was removed.

Marks & Spencer says the outlook for trade

Marks & Spencer says the outlook for trade “remains very challenging” because the latest coronavirus restrictions could last until Easter. Photograph: Shaun Curry / AFP / Getty Images


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