Marks & Spencer (M&S) reported on Friday another big fall in sales of clothing and homewares in the three months leading up to Christmas, as restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus hit demand and closed stores.

Food sales increased by 2.6 per cent with food stores significantly outperforming the general stores.

In Clothing and Homeware, revenue decreased 25.1% with sales declining by 46.5%, partly offset by strong online sales growth of 47.5%.

The sales mix,said the Company, remained heavily biased to Covid influenced product such as sleepwear and leisurewear.

In August, Marks and Spencer cut 7,000 jobs and in November it reported a first loss in its 94 years as a publicly listed company.

Steve Rowe, Chief Executive said:

“Given the on-off restrictions and distortions in demand patterns our trading was robust over the Christmas period. More importantly beneath the Covid clouds we saw a very strong performance from the Food business including Ocado Retail and a further acceleration of Clothing & Home online.  I want to thank all my colleagues for a first-class execution of Christmas for our customers in near impossible conditions.

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.”


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