New Look suffers "disappointing" sales drop during crucial Christmas shopping period

Helen Cahill
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High Streets Prepare For Last Minute Surge Of Christmas Shoppers
The Christmas period is crucial for retailers (Source: Getty)

New Look did not have a very merry Christmas, failing to bag a sales boost during the most important period of the year for retailers.

The figures

New Look said group like-for-like sales fell 4.6 per cent in the 13 weeks to 24 December, with sales in the UK down 4.7 per cent on the same period a year ago. Operating profit for the Christmas quarter fell from £70.6m to £52.2m.

This meant for the year to date like-for-like sales were down 7.3 per cent, and total revenue fell 2.9 per cent from £1.17bn to £1.14bn. Operating profit fell 33 per cent from £165.4m to £111.5m.

The company said it had surpassed its goal of opening 100 stores in China.

Why it's interesting

These are pretty worrying figures for New Look - the Christmas shopping period is crucial for retailers, and trading will only become more difficult going forward.

Read more: New Look sales drop as gloomy market conditions weigh on retailer

New Look said today that trading conditions will be "challenging" in the year ahead. The UK consumer is, to some extent, falling out of love with fashion, and rising inflation (it hit 1.6 per cent in December) means shoppers will have less to spend on non-essential items.

But that's not the only problem New Look is facing. Operating costs are sky-rocketing in retail due to the national living wage and rising fuel prices. And, in London, stores will be hit by a hike in business rates in April.

What New Look said

Anders Kristiansen, chief executive of New Look, said: "The UK market has continued to be extremely challenging, with reduced footfall and a highly promotional environment on the high street, resulting in a disappointing like-for-like sales performance.

"We are clear on the actions needed to capture customer spend, but these will take time to implement. While we expect 2017 to be tough and are setting our plans accordingly, we strongly believe in our ability to continue to execute our strategy."

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