Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose said that the retailer would have to fight for limited shopper spend this Christmas as the company prepared for its first pre-Christmas Sale promotion in four years tomorrow.
Speaking at the Drapers Fashion Summit today, Rose said that there would be a "limited pot of gold" for retailers in the run up to the festive season and the company had to show that it was "one of the players".
However he denied that tomorrow's one-day sale was in reaction to rival Debenhams' three-day Sale which started today.
Rose said: "We have to face the fact that there's been a step down in trading over the last two or three weeks across the high street. People are very circumspect and there's no retailer that hasn't felt a softening. It's not just about controlling inventory."
He added: "The promotion isn't about stock control, it's about showing that you are one of the pack and trying to get your fair share of the pot of gold which is small, and we can't say that we won't participate."
Rose added that the signs were that Christmas would be tough and that he did not expect the downturn to end until the end of next year or early 2010.
He acknowledged that women's market share had dropped a little although men's had increased by volume if not by value, and added that he was not expecting any significant increase in market share next year.
More to follow...