Marks & Spencer sales hit by pre-Brexit vote jitters

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has revealed an 8.9% plunge in sales at its clothing arm amid pre-Brexit vote jitters on the high street and a cutback on promotions.

The first quarter sales drop was far worse than expected, but M&S blamed a "weak market" as consumer confidence was hit ahead of the EU referendum, as well as moves to cut promotions and shift its summer sale into July.

It added that the timing of Easter knocked around 0.8% off clothing and home sales growth.

The group's food arm fared better, with like-for-like sales down by 0.9% in the 13 weeks to July 2, of which 0.5% was due to Easter timing, while total comparable store sales were 4.3% lower overall.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: "Consumer confidence weakened in the run-up to the EU referendum. While it is too early to quantify the implications of Brexit, we are confident that our strategic priorities and the actions we are taking remain the right ones."

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