Marks & Spencer put Next to shame on Tuesday when it posted strong trading figures, but the retailer came under analyst fire for over-committing to womenswear and kidswear stock.
Despite launching the Zip childrenswear venture recently and working closer to the season with suppliers, M&S said it had to chase sales during what was 'a crucial recovery phase'.
Retail analysts at HSBC asked: 'What happened to the much-vaunted decrease in pre-season commitment?'
HSBC pointed out that intake-level margins were better than planned, but then 'given away' through higher than budgeted markdown costs.
Like-for-like sales for the 12 weeks to September 28 were ahead by 10 per cent, and up 8.8 per cent over a 26-week period.
Chief executive Roger Holmes said M&S will continue to strive to gain lost ground on the high street but that he expects high street conditions to 'normalise over the coming weeks'.