'More confident' consumers boost M&S
Retailer Marks & Spencer said today that consumers were feeling more confident as it posted a better-than-expected sales performance.
The high street giant saw UK like-for-like sales fall by just 0.5 per cent in the 13 weeks to 26 September - better than most forecasts and continuing the improving trend seen over the last three quarters.
Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said: "Whilst there is more visibility in the marketplace and consumers appear more confident, we continue to be cautious about the outlook.
"We expect 2010 to be a tough year and we will continue to run the business accordingly."
The retailer said food sales ended eight quarters of decline, levelling out during the period after the relaunch of its M&S Cook range.
Although like-for-like general merchandising sales were down 0.8 per cent, Sir Stuart said the group had held its market share in clothing.
Sir Stuart also announced that the firm would be taking on an extra 20,000 staff - more than last year - ahead of the all-important Christmas season.
He said he was "quietly confident" over festive trading but refused to be drawn on predictions of a first return to like-for-like sales growth for the overall group since 2007.
But the executive chairman added there would be "pressure on pockets" next year with the prospect of tax rises, rising unemployment and continuing economic uncertainty.
"It is going to be tough going for the next 12-18 months... I don't think it is going to be spend, spend, spend," he said.
Pleas for the end of the temporary cut in VAT at the end of December to be extended for a week have also fallen on deaf ears so far at the Treasury, Sir Stuart said.
Despite lobbying from retailers such as M&S, Next and Sir Philip Green's Arcadia, the VAT rise - coming halfway through the festive sales season - is set to add to the pressure at a critical time for the group.
"All we are asking for is a week's respite to get the sale out of the way," Sir Stuart added.
- 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...