M&S clothing sales hammered by lockdowns in Christmas quarter

© Reuters. A woman walks past a M&S store at Oxford Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) – Marks & Spencer on Friday reported another big fall in clothing and homewares sales in its Christmas quarter, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit demand and restrictions to stem the spread of the virus closed stores.

Marks & Spencer (M&S), one of the best known names in British retail, said revenue in its clothing and home division slumped 25.1% in the 13 weeks to Dec. 26, its fiscal third quarter, having fallen 21.3% in the previous quarter.

“Near term trading remains very challenging but we are continuing to accelerate change under our Never the Same Again programme to ensure the business emerges from the pandemic in very different shape,” said Chief Executive Steve Rowe.

The group said “good progress” in repositioning clothing and home ranges and buying was concealed by the COVID-19 restrictions and demand distortions.

It said a store sales decline of 46.5% was partly offset by online sales growth of 47.5%.

M&S said food sales were up 2.2% in the quarter, having increased 1.6% in the second quarter.

It said food performed well in the four-week lead up to Christmas, with like-for-like sales, excluding hospitality and franchise up 8.7%, with large retail park and Simply Food stores significantly outperforming.

M&S’s international revenue decreased 10.4% impacted by changing restrictions related to the pandemic across the world.

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