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Reporting its results for the 13 weeks ended 1 January, including the key Christmas trading period, M&S said clothing and home sales increased 3.2% to GBP1.08bn (US$1.48bn) when compared to 2019/20, before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Full-price sales grew by 45% on the same comparative.

“We maintained our trusted value trading stance, reducing the amount of product sold on promotion by 66% and stock into sale by 21% compared to 2019/20,” M&S added.

Year-on-year, clothing and home sales were up by 37.7%.

Clothing and home online sales continued to be strong, amounting to GBP361m in the period, with growth of 50.8% on a two-year basis supported by substantial expansion of in-store fulfilment. Compared to last year, online sales increased 2.3%.

Store sales were down 10.8% on 2019/20 with retail parks up, continuing to outperform stores in city centres.

Total group M&S sales amounted to GBP3.3bn, up 18.5% on last year and 8.6% on a two-year comparative. UK and international sales also increased  both year-on-year and on a two-year basis, coming in at GBP2.3bn and GBP272m, respectively.

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M&S noted its international performance was driven by clothing and home growth in the Republic of Ireland and key markets such as India after Covid related restrictions were eased.

Trading over the Christmas period has been strong, demonstrating the continued improvements we’ve made to product and value. Clothing and home has delivered growth for the second successive quarter, supported by robust online and full-price sales growth,” said CEO Steve Rowe.

“The market continues to be impacted by the headwinds and tailwinds that we reported in the first half, but I remain encouraged that our transformation plan is now driving improved performance.”

M&S will report full-year results for the 52 weeks ended 2 April on 25 May.

The retailer recently launched its first clothing rental trial, underscoring its commitment to drive the circular economy as part of its Plan A target to become a Scope 3 net zero business by 2040.