Value womenswear retailer Bonmarché has announced a 5.5% drop in sales for the 13 weeks to 30 December, as falling in-store sales negated stronger online performance.
In-store like-for-like sales dropped by 9.7% for the period, but online sales shot up by 28.5% compared with the same period the previous year.
For the 39 weeks to 30 December Bonmarché recorded a 35.5% rise in its online sales, equating to a 0.9% total sales increase.
Chief executive Helen Connolly said the market had become “more challenging” in the third quarter. However, in anticipation of this, the business had adjusted stock-purchasing plans, reducing discounting compared with the previous year and consequently making “slight” improvements to its gross margin.
Looking to 2018, Connolly highlighted continuing market uncertainties, but remained optimistic for future growth, and Bonmarché’s full-year forecast remaining unchanged.
“There remains uncertainty as to how trading conditions will evolve as we enter our final quarter. We do not anticipate material changes in the underlying market conditions, and in this short-term outlook, the weather represents the most significant uncertainty due to its effect on consumer shopping behaviour, with the risks equally weighted on the up and downsides,” she said.
“Looking further ahead, while we expect the market to remain difficult, we have a number of self-help initiatives in progress or planned for FY19, which are expected to deliver profitable like-for-like sales growth in stores, and the continuation of strong sales growth online.”