Marks & Spencer has signalled that it does not intend to increase apparel prices in 2024.

Stuart Machin

Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Machin does not intend to raise clothing prices this year

The news will be welcome for hard-pressed shoppers, who have laboured under heavy cost-of-living pressures and is another sign that high inflation is easing.

As he unveiled a strong Christmas performance at Marks & Spencer across the board, chief executive Stuart Machin said: “We don’t expect any price increases in the coming year.”

The retailer implemented a ‘value you can trust’ stance on clothing last year and has avoided price increases. It said that customer perception of its clothing and home value has been improving alongside quality and style.

The intention not to increase prices this year came even though Machin acknowledged that supply chain disruption in the Red Sea as a result of attacks on ships was possible.

He said: “Our plan is not to increase prices. Yes, there may be some cost impact to us with the Red Sea issues, but it’s a bit too early to call that out yet.”

Inflation easing

Machin’s comments on clothing prices echoed those of Next boss Lord Wolfson, who said last week that he anticipated “zero inflation in selling prices”.

Wolfson observed that it was the first time in three years that input prices had been stable, and that prices “would’ve been moving down” were it not for the looming impact of higher wage costs.

Inflation has been slowing across retail. Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy said, as he revealed strong peak trading and upgraded profit expectations, that following a torrid period, he expects “a period of relative stability” from the consumer’s perspective.