M&S reports sales boost but warns of tough 2010

MARKS & SPENCER has reported a rise in sales for the three months to Christmas but warned of a tough year ahead.

The retailer saw like for like sales rise by 0.8 per cent with record takings on food on 23 December.

Food sales overall were 0.4 per cent up on the previous year with general merchandise up 1.2 per cent.

Shoppers snapped up more than 36 million mince pies and a million bottles of champagne as well as 8 million jumpers and cardigans.

However the seasonal sales boost missed the 1.2 per cent pencilled in by City analysts.

M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose said: “We had a good Christmas, continuing the improvements seen throughout 2009.

“Despite the difficult weather conditions, our staff delivered a great Christmas for our customers.

“We expect the trading conditions over the coming year to remain challenging as a result of continuing economic uncertainty.

“We believe, however, that customers will continue to seek out real value and quality for which we are justly famous.”

M&S registered a 7.1 per cent fall in same-store sales at the height of the recession in 2008 – its worst performance since 1999.

The latest figures follow an upward trend in the high street with John Lewis and Next reporting better than expected results this week.