Marks & Spencer has revealed its online sales over the past four years were lower than thought, as it did not take into account £500m of goods returned to stores.
M&S began breaking out online sales in 2007, at which point a decision was made to report the figures on a pre-store returns basis. This year it decided to move to a post store-returns basis.
As a result, it has revised its online sales in the year to March 2014 down by £151m from £800m to £649m. Over the past four years, online sales were £500m less than previously stated.
The changes do not affect M&S’s overall sales or profits.
A spokeswoman for M&S said: “As it clearly sets out in our annual report, this year (2014/15) we took the decision to report the standalone M&S.com number on a post store-returns basis and have restated the historic M&S.com sales on a consistent basis to provide a comparative. We will continue to report M&S.com on a post-store returns basis.”
It comes as research from retail analyst firm IHL Group, commissioned by software provider OrderDynamics, suggests retailers are losing out on an estimated £425bn per year because of returns.