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.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Davidson performs his comedy show at Edinburgh Festival 2014
TV
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor