Retail giant Marks & Spencer has revealed "mixed" festive trading after another steep fall in sales in its embattled clothing arm and disappointing trading in its food halls.
The high street bellwether blamed a tough October for a 2.8% fall in like-for-like clothing and home sales over the 13 weeks to December 30, while it said "ongoing under-performance" in its food arm saw sales fall 0.4%.
But the declines were not as bad as some feared, following recent profit warnings from the likes of Debenhams, Moss Bros and Mothercare.
M&S said a pick up in trading over the key Christmas weeks helped make up for a weak clothing market and more difficult trading in its food business, with consumer spending under pressure amid a squeeze on budgets from inflation.
Steve Rowe, chief executive, said: "M&S had a mixed quarter with better Christmas trading in both businesses going some way to offset a weak clothing market in October and ongoing under-performance in our food like-for-like sales."
He said the group remained on track to meet full-year profit expectations.