How was Christmas for the retail sector? After today’s avalanche of updates, dubbed ‘Super Thursday’, we are at an answer – of sorts.

In essence, top-line trading in the golden quarter appeared better-than-expected for many.

We have tried to make sense of the numbers with our sector round-ups on grocery, fashion, electricals and department stores.

M&S surprised the market with its best Christmas in six years, helped by a much-needed sales rise from its clothing and homewares division.

Boss Steve Rowe also heralded its decision not to get involved in Black Friday.

And veteran analyst Tony Shiret told Retail Week that M&S had “exceeded expectations”. 

Tesco continued its revival, meaning boss Dave Lewis is upbeat on profits.

Debenhams’ focus on non-fashion categories boosted sales.

Fashion etailer Asos continued to soar, while boss Nick Beighton revealed to Retail Week it will hold prices as did fellow fashion high flyer SuperGroup. Moss Bros, Mothercare, Dunelm, JD Sports, and Primark also updated the market.

However John Lewis’ Charlie Mayfield warned trading profits at the group are under pressure and its famed staff bonus will be lower this year.

Indeed it is the next 12 months that will be the key as a wave of cost pressures are set to engulf the sector – meaning bottom lines are likely to be tested. The bumpy ride for many share prices reflected this. 

The real work starts now.

Quote of the day

“Finance directors and investor relation executives should hold their heads in shame at the chaotic volume of information delivered this morning whilst we request and expect a more balanced information flow in 2018.”

Shore Cap analyst Clive Black is not impressed by ‘Super Thursday’

Today in numbers


The number of customers Tesco served every second in the UK during its peak trading period at lunchtime on Christmas Eve


The number of Mrs Claus red dresses M&S sold in the three weeks following the screening of its Christmas ad

Tomorrow’s agenda

In a quieter day for updates, Fortnum & Mason releases its Christmas numbers

James Wilmore, news editor