// M&S clothing and home revenue drops 25.1% in the 13 weeks to December 26
// M&S said online clothing and home sales rose 47.5% to £353m
// UK sales fell 7.6% on a like-for-like basis during the third quarter
Marks & Spencer has reported a drop in clothing and homeware revenue during the Christmas quarter as Covid-19 restrictions continue to affect trading.
The retailer saw clothing and home revenue drop 25.1 per cent to £787 million in the 13 weeks to December 26, reflecting an in-store sales plunge of 46.5 per cent.
On a like-for-like basis, clothing and home sales dropped 24.1 per cent.
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M&S’s food department did marginally better, growing 2.2 per cent to £1.74 billion during the third quarter, and increased 2.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Overall, M&S’s third quarter group sales was down 8.4 per cent to £2.76 billion, and in its UK market alone overall sales was down 8.2 per cent to £2.52 billion while like-for-like sales dropped by 7.6 per cent.
During the second national lockdown in England that took place between November 5 and December 1, M&S said overall revenue was down 19.5 per cent, with food and non-food sales falling 4.5 per cent and 40.5 per cent respectively.
Despite the impact on stores, the retailer said its online sales performed well, with total online clothing and home sales rising 47.5 per cent to £353 million during the quarter overall – boosted by a 47 per cent surge December.
M&S chief executive Steve Rowe also warned that, despite the UK signing a free trade agreement with the EU, new rules and regulations are set to “significantly impact” its overseas ventures in Ireland, the Czech Republic and France, although he insisted the retailer was “actively working to mitigate” the issues.
However, he said that, in spite of the Brexit and Covid knocks, M&S had a “robust” Christmas period.
In the four weeks leading up to Christmas, sales jumped up 8.7 per cent – particularly at large retail park and Simply Food stores, which have remained open throughout as “essential” retailers.
“Given the on-off restrictions and distortions in demand patterns our trading was robust over the Christmas period,” he said.
“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 and home online.
“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.”