Festive sales cheer for Tesco as M&S reports another slump

M&S store

The embattled group - which revealed it was asking landlords to cut some of its rents last week - said the sales fall over the crucial six weeks to December 23 came as it held off from heavy discounting outside of Black Friday. Chief executive Charles Wilson said the business had improved "choice, prices and service" for shoppers.

Rowe said: "M&S had a mixed quarter with better Christmas trading in both businesses going some way to offset a weak clothing market in October".

Just today, fashion retailers announce sales revenues 10-25% higher over the Christmas period, as companies both young (Boohoo) and old (Ted Baker) see bumper demand, further projecting the image of the cash conscious United Kingdom consumer wanting bang for their buck, especially at yuletide.

M&S also carried more stock into its December sale.

Supermarket giant Tesco said United Kingdom like-for-like seasonal sales rose by 1.9 per cent, driven by a strong grocery performance.

We've already had a first glimpse of that here on Monday where United Kingdom 2017 consumer spending fell for the first time in five years.

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Debenhams and Mothercare have both issued profit warnings, John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] said on Thursday that higher costs and tough competition had blunted the benefits of solid Christmas sales, while House of Fraser saw its sales fall. Total sales in United Kingdom however improved 1.1 percent to 2,858 million pounds (3,855 million dollars), while like-for-like sales decreased 1.4 percent in the quarter.

Same store food sales fell 0.4 percent - ahead of analysts' average forecast of a 1.1 percent decline but worse than a 0.1 percent fall in the previous quarter.

Online sales at M&S.com lifted 3%, while its ongoing move to pull out of worldwide markets saw overseas sales slump 9.8%.

Mr Rowe said he was pushing on with his turnaround after speeding up plans in November to close under-performing clothing stores and slow expansion of its Simply Food chain.

CMC Markets analyst, Michael Hewson commented "With concerns starting to rise about an [increase] in inflation due to the recent strength in oil prices it is understandable that bond markets might be nervous if a normally large buyer of USA treasuries either stops buying them or even starts to sell large amounts". Such an outcome would be a second straight year of decline.

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