Retail bellwether Marks & Spencer generated UK like-for-like growth of 2.8% and market share gains over the Christmas period, despite arctic weather conditions.
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The rise, in the third quarter to January 1, comprised a 3.8% advance in general merchandise and a 1.8% increase in food.
The retailer’s clothing market share rose by 70 basis points during the period to 11.8% and food share was up 10 basis points in food to 3.9%.
Marks & Spencer estimated that the icy weather cost it about 1% of lost food sales and about 3% in general merchandise, but that was counterbalanced by a 3% positive impact on general merchandise because of the inclusion of the first five days of the Sale in the reported figures.
Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland maintained: “We delivered a great Christmas for our customers, from our stylish occasionwear to our innovative festive food.” He said that staff had done a “wonderful job in very difficult conditions.”
Group sales rose 4% n the quarter. In the UK total sales increased 4%. The advance in general merchandise was 4.4%, comprising a 4.7% rise in clothing and a 2.7% increase in sales of home goods.
Total food sales rose 3.5% and December 23 was the retailer’s biggest ever day in food as sales topped £50m.
However, the retailer warned that trading conditions are likely to become “more challenging” and its profit expectations remain unchanged.
Singer analyst Matthew McEachran estimated that the snow cost M&S about £45m in lost sales and said: “The trading update is better than many that have reported thus far, although there has still been a slowdown in line with most in the industry driven by a tough December.”