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Marks & Spencer general merchandise sales suffer in Q3 on delivery issues, warm autumn

UK retail giant Marks & Spencer Thursday reported a fall in Q3 sales as its general merchandise performance continued to disappoint, blaming online delivery problems and unseasonal weather.

The general merchandise division, which includes fashion and homewares, saw same-store sales dip a bigger-than-expected 5.8% in the 13-week Q3 to December 27. It said its clothing sector performance was impacted by unseasonal conditions in October and November.

However, M&S noted it had received “positive customer feedback” on its autumn/winter womenswear ranges.

But the general merchandise figures are the worst since the start of the 2012/13 financial year and extend the run of declines in the division to a 14th quarter.

Total group sales fell 1.6% with UK sales down 1.1% and international sales were 5.8% lower.

“We had a difficult [third] quarter in general merchandise, dominated by unseasonal conditions and an unsatisfactory performance in our e-commerce distribution centre,” said chief executive Marc Bolland.

M&S noted it deliberately held back the level of discounting, especially in December, adversely impacting sales, but improving gross margin.

Marks & Spencer broadly reiterated its full-year guidance.

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