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undergroundnewsroom.com January 20, 2018


M&S clothing sales slightly better than expected in…

13 January 2018, 12:59 | Gordon Grant

Marks and Spencer shares dive as Christmas sales drop while John Lewis and Tesco rise

Tesco and M&S weather the perils of Christmas

John Lewis bucked the trend in general merchandise and fashion reporting a rise in gross sales of 3.6 per cent (3.1 per cent on a like-of-like basis) for the six weeks to 30th December.

Clothing and homeware fell 2.8 percent, food also dropped by 0.4 percent despite being seen as the most successful sector.

Tesco said United Kingdom like-for-like seasonal sales rose by 1.9% with "record sales and volumes" in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

Shares in M&S fell 5.6%, while Tesco shed 4.8%.

However the figures released by the two retailers were not directly comparable as John Lewis's covered a shorter period.

The supermarket giant said United Kingdom like-for-like sales rose by 1.9% in the six weeks to January 6, driven by a strong grocery performance.

And Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, missed forecasts for its festive trading.

Over Christmas, sales of fresh food brands and the Tesco finest range were particularly strong.

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M&S said it held off from slashing prices despite intense competition on the high street and saw sales grow both in store and online in the weeks leading up to Christmas. To be fair, an unseasonal October could not have been predicted-though the revenue hit showed M&S's non-food inventory operation is still not as nimble as it could be.

As ever, the all-important Christmas trading has brought a mixed bag of fortunes for retailers.

Next surprised with an impressive set of figures and profit upgrade thanks to bumper online sales at its Directory arm, having otherwise suffered a tough 2017.

However, chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said pressure on margins had intensified and the group's decision to maintain competitive prices despite higher costs would negatively affect the full year results. And it has underperformed in food.

Department store chain Debenhams was among the first to emerge as a festive casualty after warning over profits after it was forced to slash prices to boost flagging festive sales.

M&S also did not take part in Black Friday, which helped buoy John Lewis results.

The company said it remained confident in its outlook for the full year and was firmly on track to deliver its medium-term ambitions.

Natalie Berg, global research director of Planet Retail, told BBC Breakfast that Tesco would never return to its former glory, but had responded well to its difficulties: "The ship has been steadied and they're doing all the right things".



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