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UK’s M&S reports strong Christmas sales in food and clothing

marks and spencer

British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) reported strong Christmas sales, with demand for turkeys helping to deliver its highest ever share of the food market and partywear boosting its clothing sales.

Chief Executive Stuart Machin said M&S outperformed the market in food in both volume and value in the four-week Christmas period for the second year running, whilst it maintained market leadership in clothing and home with its highest share in seven years.

“This performance across both our businesses provides confidence in delivering our full-year results,” he said on Thursday.

The retailer’s high-end food offer traditionally appeals to shoppers at Christmas, and 2022 was no exception despite increasing economic pressure on consumers.

It benefited from improved availability of seasonal lines including turkeys, where it said it retained its leading market share for the third year running.

However, it said its “Remarksable Value” offer also performed strongly. As a whole, it reported a better-than-expected increase in like-for-like food sales of 6.3 per cent.

Clothing and home sales rose 8.6 per cent.

The retailer’s strong performance adds to evidence that shoppers were determined to spend at Christmas despite inflation running at 10.7 per cent and consumer confidence close to record lows.

Tesco(TSCO.L), Britain’s biggest retailer, also reported stronger than expected Christmas sales on Thursday, with like-for-like sales up 7.2 per cent in the six weeks to Jan. 7.

M&S International sales increased 12.5 per cent at constant currency, with a strong performance in key franchise markets in the Middle East and owned markets including India in the 13 weeks to Dec. 31.

However it remained cautious about the wider economic environment, saying there were “clear macro-economic headwinds ahead and underlying cost pressures”, but it was confident its full-year results would meet its guidance.

It has already forecast profit to fall in its 2022-23 year, having warned in November of a “gathering storm” of higher costs and pressure on household budgets.

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