High street cheer on cards in the run-up to Christmas
But gloom still persists as M&S profits fall and suit sales plunge
Hopes for robust trading on the high street in the run-up to Christmas will be raised today with data showing retail sales rose last month.
However, Marks & Spencer is expected to give the sector a reality check tomorrow with a sharp fall in half-year profits. Sales of men's suits, in particular, are suffering.
Non-food retailers posted a 0.9 per cent rise in like-for-like revenues in October, with stores selling luxury, outdoor or leisure-related products being the star performers, according to the accountancy firm BDO's High Street Sales Tracker.
Don Williams, the national head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "We've learned to live with austerity for five years, but consumers have shown they will not sacrifice Christmas. Now indicators are suggesting the economy will improve in 2013, this will hopefully feed into consumer confidence over the next two months."
However, BDO said sales at fashion chains were flat last month, with a strong start to October offsetting a weak final two weeks of falling sales. That bears out the long-term picture that sales of men's suits across the UK have crashed by nearly a quarter in the past five years.
Figures released today show the value of men's suit sales has tumbled from £207 million in 2008 to £160 million this year. That is 300,00 fewer suits, according to retail analyst Kantar. "Shopping for the work wardrobe can be expensive, and since the recession people cannot afford to splash out," said Kantar analyst Angela Payumo. "Shoppers are making their purchase last longer and choosing more versatile outfits that they can wear for a night out as well as work."
Tomorrow, the fashion giants Marks & Spencer and Primark will post contrasting performances. M&S is forecast to report a 13 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £280m over the 26 weeks to 29 September, dragged down by a weak performance in its general merchandise business that is dominated by clothing.
Its non-food business is expected to reveal a 2.5 per cent decline in sales in its second quarter, although this will mark an improvement on a slump of 6.8 per cent in the previous three months.
Primark, owned by the conglomerate Associated British Foods, is set to deliver a 14 per cent leap in operating profit to £351m over the year to 15 September. This will have been driven by a 3 per cent rise in underlying sales and improved margins in the second half.
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Three killed at South Korean nuclear reactor days after hackers target country's atomic agency
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
iJobs Money & Business
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...
Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...