Marks & Spencer posted a slim rise in underlying Christmas sales as deep discounts helped to lure cash-strapped shoppers, and said it expected trading conditions to stay challenging.
Britain's biggest clothing retailer said it was making additional cost savings to offset a fall in profit margins due to the discounting.
Sales at British stores open over a year rose 0.5 per cent excluding VAT sales tax in the 13 weeks to 31 December, its financial third quarter.
That included a 1.8 per cent fall in general merchandise sales and a three per cent rise in food sales, against forecasts for a fall of 1.5 per cent and a rise of 1.5 per cent respectively.
In its second quarter, Marks & Spencer (M&S) reported a 0.7 per cent fall in underlying British sales.