Marks & Spencer boss Steve Rowe has hailed a “strong” uplift in Christmas sales across all divisions as the retailer’s clothing and home sales increased for the second successive quarter.

M&S Westfield

Marks & Spencer reported an 18.5% uplift in group sales year on year in the 13 weeks to January 1, up 8.6% on a two-year basis.

The retailer’s clothing and home sales surged 37.7% year on year during the period, up 3.2% on pre-pandemic levels and driven by a 45% jump in full-price sales.

On a two-year basis, M&S slashed the amount of product sold on promotion and stock into Sale by 66% and 21% respectively.

A 50.8% uptick in online sales during the period, supported by in-store fulfilment, compensated for a 10.8% decline in store sales on a two-year basis.

The retailer’s food sales rose 10% year on year and 12.4% on a two-year basis during the period, driven by strong demand across retail parks and Simply Food stores. 

Larger basket sizes recorded in the first half of the retailer’s financial year continued through the festive period, which meant that M&S “was the fastest-growing major store-based food retailer in the period” and recorded its “highest-ever Christmas sales” in December.

The retailer’s products also comprised 30% of baskets on Ocado during December.

Marks & Spencer’s international sales rose 17.4% year on year and 5.5% on a two-year basis during the period.

Based on this strong performance, M&S reiterated its confidence in its increased full-year pre-tax profit guidance of at least £500m.

Rowe said: “Trading over the Christmas period has been strong, demonstrating the continued improvements we’ve made to product and value.

“Clothing and home has delivered growth for the second successive quarter, supported by robust online and full-price sales growth. 

“Food has maintained its momentum, outperforming the market over both 12 and 24 months. The market continues to be impacted by the headwinds and tailwinds that we reported in the first half, but I remain encouraged that our transformation plan is now driving improved performance.”

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