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Marks & Spencer Christmas sales slump, clothing hit by store closures

By Huw Hughes

8 Jan 2021

Marks & Spencer has reported a slump in sales for the typically busy Christmas period, driven by significant drops in its clothing and homeware departments.

For the 13 Weeks to 26 December, group Q3 sales dropped 8.4 percent to 2.77 billion pounds.

UK sales fell 8.2 percent, or 7.6 percent on a like-for-like basis, to 2.53 billion pounds, while international sales dropped 10.4 percent to 239 million pounds.

Marks & Spencer clothing sales hurt by lockdowns

Marks & Spencer’s clothing and home department was hit particularly hard, with revenue down 25.1 percent to 787 million pounds. But the company said there was “good progress in repositioning ranges and shape of buy was concealed by the continuing restrictions and demand distortions”.

That 25.1 percent revenue decline reflected an in-store sales decline of 46.5 percent, partly offset by strong online sales growth of 47.5 percent.

The sales mix remained heavily biased to Covid-influenced products such as sleepwear and leisurewear.

The company also said that many blanket promotions were removed in the period, and the ratio of full-price sales improved with full-price sales declining a more modest 4.8 percent and online orders more than doubling. “As a result, the stock position as we entered the latest lockdown was strong,” the retailer said.

CEO Steve Rowe described the retailer’s performance as “robust over the Christmas period” but warned of more tough times ahead. “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,” he said.

Photo credit: Marks & Spencer