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Shoppers cut back at M&S

Marks & Spencer shoppers are cutting back on “fripperies” and only buying garments if they are dual purpose, executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose declared this week after a profit warning from the retailer.

Rose said its customers knew they had to cut back and were deciding what to stint on.

In womenswear, that meant cutting out what he called fripperies. “The spending trends seem to be that if they buy a blouse they want that blouse to be multi-purpose – something they can wear on different occasions,” he said.

The retailer reported that total UK like-for-like sales were down 5.3% for the 13 weeks to June 28 and that total clothing sales had recorded a 3.6% drop.

Rose said the decline in sales at M&S mirrored the decline across the clothing market. “There are always ways in which the business can improve,” he added. “If you look at the textiles business 25% is self-inflicted and we are working on that, but 75% is down to the market.”

He insisted that womenswear market share over the last quarter had held up. “The rate of decline has slowed and we are gaining volume share. What our customers are telling us is that they are happier with our summer ranges than they were with our spring ranges,” he said. “Womenswear is in good shape.”

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