Marks & Spencer has reported a 5.8% drop in like-for-like sales in general merchandise for the 13 weeks to December 27, making it the 14 consecutive quarters of falling fashion and general merchandise sales.
The retailer which described the pre-Christmas period as a “difficult quarter” for general merchandise experienced a 5.4% drop in total general merchandise sales.
Clothing like-for-like sales dropped 5.3% over the quarter.
M&S said the clothing sector performance was impacted by “unseasonal conditions in October and November” as well as disruption at its Castle Donington distribution centre which affected sales in December.
Online like-for-like sales fell by 2.7%.
However the retailer said there was lower discounting in December compared to 2013 and the gross margin remained unchanged at +150 to +200 basis points.
Marc Bolland, chief executive, said:
“We had a difficult quarter in General Merchandise, dominated by unseasonal conditions and an unsatisfactory performance in our e-commerce distribution centre. We maintained our focus on general merchandise gross margin, with guidance unchanged.”
Neil Saunders, managing director of Conlumino said: “Back in November, M&S’s numbers were showing some signs of improvement. Unfortunately, this dismal set of figures indicates this momentum has not been carried through into the Christmas quarter.The rejuvenation of M&S’s clothing offer is at a relatively early stage and it has not yet completely won back the confidence of consumers. This means that performance can easily be blown off course by negative headwinds; and the gusts certainly blew this Christmas.”