Falling fashion sales hit M&S

Tesco is festive winner reporting record Christmas sales

Another sign that UK consumers are struggling with inflation rise

Commenting on the third quarter trading, Steve Rowe, the company's Chief Executive said in a statement: "M&S had a mixed quarter with better Christmas trading in both businesses going some way to offset a weak clothing market in October".

Shares in Tesco, which has around 50 stores in Northern Ireland, fell towards the bottom of the FTSE 100 yesterday, despite reporting a solid rise in sales over the critical Christmas trading period.

Retail giants Tesco and John Lewis have added to the list of festive winners after posting solid sales, but Marks & Spencer joined a raft of casualties hit by tough high street trading and consumer belt-tightening.

The supermarket posted like-for-like sales growth of 2.3 per cent across the third quarter and 1.9 per cent in the six-week period to 6 January at its United Kingdom stores.

Elsewhere, House of Fraser said sales in the six weeks to 23 December were down 2.9% and post-Christmas performance was "disappointing".

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"Sales at established stores rose 1.1" in the 15 weeks to 6 January, in line with consensus.

M&S said like-for-like revenues fell 1.4% in the 13 weeks to 30 December.

He said that but for October's unseasonable mild weather, M&S would have had a positive sales performance for clothing.

"Sales in clothing and home actually fell by the biggest margin, but in a market which is shrinking, that's more a reflection of wider economic trends", he said.

Mr Rowe said on food, the group had "a lot to do to get our business back on track" having disappointed in the last few quarters despite rivals enjoying a sales boost from rising inflation.

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As ever, the all-important Christmas trading has brought a mixed bag of fortunes for retailers.

Lewis's strategy to rebuild Tesco following an accounting scandal in 2014 has been based on increasing food sales.

Department store chain Debenhams was among the first to emerge as a festive casualty after warning over profits after it was forced to slash prices to boost flagging festive sales.

However, group tobacco sales declined by 2.6 per cent with tobacco like-for-likes down 2.1 per cent and as a result, total sales were up 3.4 per cent and like-for-likes were up 3.8 per cent.

However, Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco said: "We have continued to outperform the market throughout this period, particularly in fresh food, thanks to our most competitive offer for many years".

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