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Online Sales Help Marks & Spencer Surprise Analysts

19 April 2010 - 09:06 by Mike Price

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High street favourite Marks & Spencer has recently had much to be pleased about after announcing some unexpectedly strong growth in the quarter which runs from the start of the year to the 27th March. The long-established high street retailer, which sells everything from food to clothing, published its quarterly results earlier in the month, revealing that its like-for-like sales were up by 5.1 per cent over the same period last year. This was considerably higher than forecast, with analysts previously suggesting that Marks & Spencer's sales growth would be a mere 1.7 per cent.

One thing that really stands out in the various elements of the quarterly report is the figure for Marks & Spencer's online growth via the store's outlet for safe shopping online, M&S Direct, which showed an increase of 48%. So it seems that the idea of turning to the net rather than venturing into one of the high street retailer's bricks-and-mortar stores is certainly holding considerable appeal for consumers who enjoy safe shopping online.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer has reported that two product groups that have performed particularly strongly over the last few months have been knitwear and formalwear, whilst in more general terms, sales of clothing were up by 9.1 per cent and food sales increased by 1.8%. However, things were less rosy when it came to international sales, with Marks & Spencer reporting a 5.9 per cent decrease in sales, largely attributing this to poor exchange rates.

It is also thought that the overall quarterly results were higher than expected thanks in part to the inclusion of the first day of the Christmas sale in the period. Last year, the corresponding report did not include this significant day, which may go some way to explain the surprise sales figures but they are nevertheless regarded as being highly positive.