Marks & Spencer has notched up its 12th consecutive quarter of declining like-for-likes for general merchandise, with clothing – which it has only recently started splitting out – also down.
The retailer’s general merchandise total sales fell 0.8% in the 13 weeks to June 28, while like-for-likes dropped 1.5%. Within clothing, like-for-likes declined 0.6%, though total sales edged up 0.8%.
Group sales rose 2.3%, though in the UK this was a smaller growth of 2% for total sales and 0.3% in like-for-like terms. Food outperformed, up 4.2%.
M&S.com, which relaunched in February, contributed to much of the decline again this quarter, with sales of the site down 8.1%. International sales were up a healthy 4.7%.
Chief executive Marc Bolland noted that “as anticipated the settling in of the new M&S.com site has had an impact on sales”.
But he added: “We are pleased that the womenswear business was in growth, driven by full price sales, in line with our increased focus on margin. Our food business had another great quarter, continuing to outperform the market, through our focus on differentiation.”
In a statement, M&S said womenswear sales had grown “as a result of stronger full price sales and uplift from seasonal and fashionable products”.
“In general merchandise, we are continuing to see progress in our clothing business with customers increasingly buying into the improvements we have made to quality and style. In line with our increased focus on margin, we were less promotional, both online and in stores. While this has affected the sales performance, particularly online, we are on track to deliver our full year gross margin guidance.”
M&S will report its second quarter trading and half year results on November 5, 2014.