Marks & Spencer share price falls as retailer records 14th consecutive quarter of clothing woes

Jessica Morris
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M&S food was its saving grace (Source: Getty)

Marks & Spencer's share price fell more than 2.2 per cent in early trading, after the struggling retailer revealed below-expectations results.

Online delivery delays and "unseasonal conditions" proved to be a nightmare before Christmas for Marks & Spencer, as general merchandise sales slumped for the 14th consecutive quarter.

Like-for-like sales in general merchandise - which includes clothing - fell 5.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 27, worse than the three per cent expected.

General merchandise was "strongly impacted" by disruption at its Castle Donington distribution centre. In December it plagued M&S with problems forcing it to extend online orders by up to two weeks.

Women's clothing also suffered, as hot weather kept customers out of the shops which hurt sales and led to heavy discounting.

The food division was its saving grace with like-for-like sales up 0.1 per cent during the same period. Sales surged 17 per cent during the Christmas week as consumers gorged on turkeys, party food, desserts and deli.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said:

M&S had a very good Christmas in food. We delivered record Christmas sales, strongly outperforming the market.

We had a difficult quarter in general merchandise, dominated by unseasonal conditions and an unsatisfactory performance in our ecommerce distribution centre.

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