Marks & Spencer has reported its ninth consecutive quarter of sliding clothing and homeware sales and warned that consumers remain reluctant to spend.
The retailer said like-for-like general merchandise sales dropped 1.3% between July and September on a year earlier, slightly above City hopes and better than a 1.6% first-quarter decline.
Underlying pre-tax profits dropped 8.9% to £261.6 million during the six months to the end of September, weighed down by the cost of the star-studded launch of its autumn/winter clothing range.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said its revamp of womenswear was its key priority during the period, and is showing “early signs of improvement”.
But the high street bellwether said that, while consumer confidence appears to be improving, there is little evidence of this translating into higher spending, adding that it is cautious on the outlook for the rest of the year.
Like-for-like sales in its food business rose 3.2% in its second quarter.