Marks & Spencer has delivered a mixed bag of results in the third quarter. Food performed well with sales up 2.8% and 0.1% on a like-for-like basis in the 13 weeks to 27 December 2014 with record sales in the key Christmas week.
However, it was a difficult quarter for general merchandise with sales down by 5.4% and 5.8% on a like-for-like basis.
Marks & Spencer blamed unseasonal conditions for poor clothing sales in October and November; while disruption at its Castle Donington distribution centre affected .com sales in December.
Bryan Roberts, director of retail Insights, Kantar Retail, said: “More of the same from M&S, as respectable growth for food is undermined by another jaded showing from fashion and more teething troubles for online.
“The retailer’s food offering was excellent over the festive trading period, backed up with some decent promotions and robust marketing. However, the general merchandise side of the business still appears to be suffering from something of an identity crisis, not helped by the reliably haphazard approach to discounting in the run-up to Christmas.
“Comparisons with Next are becoming a cliché, but M&S could benefit from some of its competitor’s approach to consistency and managing shopper expectations.”