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Marks & Spencer said its clothing sales dropped by a quarter over the key Christmas trading period as the retailer was hit hard by store closures on the back of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The outlook for trading “remains very challenging” because the latest lockdown could last until Easter, the retailer said.

Sales of clothing and homeware slumped by 24.1% in the 13 weeks to 26 December. The figure reflected a near halving of store sales, which was partially offset by a similar-sized surge in online sales. The restrictions on socialising over Christmas meant the big sellers were pyjamas and jogging bottoms rather than party outfits.

Marks & Spencer’s food halls fared better, with sales at stores open one year up 2.6%. That figure rose to almost 6% when the impact of the closure of its large network of in-store cafes was stripped out. On the same basis, sales were up 8.7% in the four weeks before Christmas when the impact of closures was removed.




Marks & Spencer says the outlook for trading ‘remains very challenging’ because the latest coronavirus restrictions could last until Easter.

Marks & Spencer says the outlook for trading ‘remains very challenging’ because the latest coronavirus restrictions could last until Easter. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

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