STRUGGLING retail giant Marks & Spencer today revealed deepening sales gloom – with its worst performance for more than three years.
The high street giant said UK like-for-like sales fell by 6.1% in the 13 weeks to September 27 – its worst quarterly performance since the first three months of 2005.
Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose warned: “Consumer confidence remains fragile and the retail environment unpredictable. Consumers are increasingly cautious about their budgets.”
The update reflects a worsening sales picture after M&S caught the City off-guard in July with a 5.3% fall in like-for-like sales during the three months to the end of June.
Today’s figures showed a 5.9% fall in comparative sales for its food business, which has been hit by shoppers deserting to cheaper stores to cut down on soaring food bills.
The fall comes despite promotions such as its “Meal for Two for £10” deal.
Same-store sales for general merchandise, including clothing, fell by 6.4% – although Sir Stuart said M&S continued to offer “quality, stylish product” and was confident about its autumn and winter ranges.
Mr Rose warned that the group’s margins would be hit by its price-cutting promotions in the tougher trading environment – despite a tight rein on costs.
M&S is also cutting back spending on its shops to £700m this year to save money. That compares with previous guidance of between £800m and £900m.