Bonmarché has posted a slide in sales over the festive period as increased online momentum failed to offset falling store sales.

The fashion retailer posted an 8.1% fall in total sales year-on-year in the 13 weeks to December 29, exacerbated by an 11.1% tumble in like-for-like store sales.

Online sales improved 22.2% during the period while like-for-like sales across stores and online declined 7.8%.

Bonmarché issued a profit warning last month which revised profit expectations downwards from the previous estimate of a pre-tax profit of about £5.5m to expectations it will only break even and could even lose as much as £4m.

The retailer said December’s sales combined with its performance across its fourth quarter overall meant that it now expected its pre-tax profit to be in the “mid-point of the underlying pre-tax profit range given”.

Gross margin during the period remained in line with revised expectations and was down year-on-year, which the fashion retailer attributed to “additional discounting and expected exchange rate headwinds”.

In the 39 weeks to December 29, Bonmarché’s total sales declined 2.7%, with store like-for-likes down 6.4% and online-only sales up 26.5%.

Chief executive Helen Connolly said: “Clearly, in the short time since our last update, macro market conditions have not changed, but I am pleased that the sale stock is clearing well and that trading is in line with our revised expectations.

“In the short term, we continue to focus on ending the year with a clean stock position and ensuring that our balance sheet remains healthy.

“Looking forward, the board remains confident in Bonmarché’s prospects and strategy and we will continue to drive the implementation of our previously outlined plans, maintaining a particularly strong emphasis on increasing multi-channel sales.”