Marks & Spencer to cut prices after weak Christmas


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The Independent Online

High street giant Marks & Spencer said today that it would roll out more discounts in a bid to pull in customers after weak homewares sales dragged on its Christmas performance.

M&S, which has more than 700 stores in the UK, recorded a 1.8% like-for-like decline in general merchandise sales, excluding VAT, in the 13 weeks to December 31, while food sales were up 3%. The City forecast a 1.5% decline and 1.5% increase respectively.

The decline in general merchandise sales was driven by a drop in the home division, which fell 13.3% in the period on an all-stores basis, due to the company's decision to pull technology products from its shelves.

M&S, which launched an advertising campaign starring Green Lantern actor Ryan Reynolds and Transformers actress Rosie Huntington-Whitely last summer, said it would invest in promotions and sacrifice profit margins to boost trade.

Elsewhere, department store Debenhams said like-for-like sales excluding VAT in the 18 weeks to January 7 were flat as unseasonably warm weather in October and November hit sales and uncertainty in the wider economy affected consumer confidence.