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Marks & Spencer sees online shift continue over Christmas

M&S online sales have grown as the retailer has expanded fulfilment from its stores. Image courtesy of M&S

Marks & Spencer has reported fast online growth in clothing, homewares and food sales over the Christmas period. 

Online clothing and home sales grew by 50.8% in the 13 weeks to January 1, compared to two years ago, and by 2.3% on last year – when festive shoppers were pushed online by the November lockdown and other trading restrictions on non-essential retail. That growth, said the retailer, was supported by “substantial expansion of in-store fulfilment”. However, clothing and homewares sales in stores fell by 10.8% compared to two years ago, with retail park stores outperforming those in city centres. M&S boosted its balance sheet by selling two warehouses for £42.5m during the period.

Meanwhile, M&S products made up about 30% of Ocado orders in December. Th

Total UK sales of £3bn were 18.6% ahead of last year, and 8.9% up on the previous year. Within that, food sales of £1.9bn were 10% ahead of last year and 12.4% up on two years ago, while clothing and home sales came in at £1.1bn (+37.7%/+3.2%) Full price sales in this department were 45% ahead, as it reduced the amount of products sold in promotions by 66%. International sales reached £272m (+17.4%/+5.1%) as online sales more than doubled. Grown was driven by sales in the Republic of Ireland and India, marketplace sales and franchise shipments to the Middle East. 

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe says the strong Christmas trading reflects the improvements the retailer, ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research, has made to its products and value. 

“Clothing and home has delivered growth for the second successive quarter, supported by robust online and full price sales growth,” he says. “Food has maintained its momentum, outperforming the market over both 12 and 24 months. The market continues to be impacted by the headwinds and tailwinds that we reported in the first half, but I remain encourage that our transformation plan is now driving improved performance.”

The retailer said its stores on retail parks and Simply Food shops had outperformed, making M&S the fastest growing store-based food retailer. 

Looking ahead, the retailer now expects full-year pre-tax profits to come in at at least £500m at the top line. 

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