• Group sales were up 4.4%
  • UK like-for-likes rose 3.6%
  • UK general merchandise like-for-likes up 6.0% 

A strong performance in general merchandise – which includes clothing and footwear – has helped Marks & Spencer to a 3.6% rise in like-for-like UK sales, the retailer said today (7 July).

But despite booking a good start to its financial year the company said it remains “cautious” about the outlook for consumer confidence and spending following the recent UK Budget and plans to reduce the national deficit, including an increase in VAT.

Shares in Marks and Spencer fell 3.1% to 341.9p at 08:35 BST in the wake of its statement.

UK like-for-likes were up 3.6% overall, with general merchandise growing by 6.0% over the same period last year.

“Our customers responded well to improved styling, stronger fashions and great value, with sales of summer knitwear and holiday ranges particularly good,” the company said.

It also claimed market share was up 50bps to 10.7%1 in the three months to 23 May, with growth across all areas of clothing.

The retailer also said its food like-for-likes meant it had “outperformed” the market as consumers "returned to quality".

Group sales were up 4.4%, with total general merchandise sales rising 7% and total food sales climbing 2.9%.

M&S said the figures - for the 13 weeks to 3 July - excluded the benefit of Easter timing.

"Adjusting for this would have added circa 0.4% to general merchandise total and like-for-like sales and circa 1.4% to food total and like-for-like sales," the retailer said.

International sales were up 0.9%, dampened by an adverse impact from foreign exchange and "continued difficult trading conditions in certain markets", M&S added.

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