Clothing review boosts Tesco Christmas trade

Sales were up at the supermarket chain over Christmas but the markets had expected stronger growth

M&S said like-for-like sales of clothing and homeware fell by 2.8% in its fiscal third quarter, which was ahead of analysts' average forecast of a 3.4% decline. The company's clothing & home sales in the United Kingdom were down 2.3 percent to 1,192 million pounds (1,607.8 million dollars), while the segment's like-for-like sales dropped 2.8 percent.

The retailer hailed a "strong" third-quarter performance in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, with United Kingdom like-for-like sales up 2.3% in the period and 1.9% over the Christmas trading season.

Elsewhere, House of Fraser said store sales in the six weeks to 23 December were down 2.9% and post-Christmas performance was "disappointing".

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black says tobacco sales took 0.5% off United Kingdom and Ireland like-for-like sales over six weeks.

It also said online sales were down by 7.5%.

The update comes days after Sky News revealed that the Chinese-owned business was seeking rent reductions at a number of its 59 department stores.

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"Despite many predictions that Tesco had "won" Christmas, with that accolade instead being shared by Morrisons and the Co-op, the market leader nonetheless enjoyed a very creditable festive period", he pointed out, as quoted by the newswire. "As a result, we carried more stock into the December sale".

On a grim day for United Kingdom grocers, shares in the UK's #1 supermarket Tesco are down this morning, towards the bottom of the pile on a notable Christmas sales miss.

This isn't just any retail decline, this is an M&S one.

However the figures released by the two retailers were not directly comparable as John Lewis's covered a shorter period.

Marks & Spencer reported better than expected sales of both clothing and food in the key Christmas quarter and said it was maintaining financial guidance for its full 2017-18 year. The results come after the latest Kantar data showed that the company was the fastest growing of the UK's big four supermarkets in the 12 weeks to December 31, while still growing behind the market.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: "For M&S, the picture goes from bad to worse".

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