The retailer, which sees Marc Bolland arrive as its new chief executive later this year, told shareholders that its so-called like-for-like sales climbed 0.8pc in the 13 weeks to Boxing Day. That figure missed the 1.2pc pencilled in by City analysts. General merchandise, which includes clothing, was up 1.2pc and food sales were up 0.4pc.
M&S said that its struggling food business had its record day for sales on December 23, and overall sold more than 36 million mince pies, a million bottles of champagnes and more than 8 million jumpers and cardigans. Analysts also expect the retailers’s margins to have benefitted because the chain discounted less this year.
However, M&S said that it expects things to get tougher this year, adding to the note of caution yesterday from Next which warned that tackling Britain’s deficit threatens consumer spending.
“We expect the trading conditions over the coming year to remain challenging as a result of continuing economic uncertainty, ” said Sir Stuart Rose, executive chairman of the chain. “We believe however, that customers will continue to seek out real value and quality for which we are justly famous.”