M&S: Shoppers are set for a Christmas spending splurge

M&S: Shoppers are set for a Christmas spending splurge – despite widespread supply chain disruption










Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe said customer confidence is improving and there are encouraging signs that Christmas spending will be high despite widespread supply chain disruption. 

Although there are currently shortages of fuel and CO2 plus chaos at borders with the EU, he presented an upbeat and broad-ranging presentation to investors at the company’s London head office and pointed to ‘a number of positives’. 

After years in the doldrums, the chain believes it is regaining its footing on the high street. 

A YouGov poll of 5,000 customers suggests the company is regarded more highly than rivals for ‘quality’ and ‘value for money’ – the latter for the first time in several years. 

After years in the doldrums, the chain believes it is regaining its footing on the high street

Rowe said: ‘Consumer confidence is recovering. We can see that in every area of the business and, overall, household finances are solid, particularly in our customer base. 

‘We can tell that customers are looking forward to a social and happy Christmas after last year’s last-minute kibosh.

‘They are trusting M&S to be part of that. To make it special. To make it different.’ 

But he also added a note of caution, saying there is ‘substantial uncertainty about the strength of that consumer demand as we go forward’. 

He added: ‘[There’s] substantial uncertainty about working patterns and about where customers will shop in the short term and how many of those trends are here forever or for a brief moment.’ 

Joint chief operating officer Katie Bickerstaffe said a significant reduction in the number of product options available in store from about 20,000 to less than 15,000 coupled with more contemporary and relevant product ranges had provided a fresher shopping experience for customers. 

Richard Price, clothing and home managing director, said: ‘It’s a competitive and increasingly fragmented market. Average spend has been flat for a while and wardrobes are increasingly full.’ 

He added: ‘There has been a huge, seismic shift towards casual dressing, not historically a strength of ours.’ 

That change had led to the launch of the Goodmove activewear label, which has turned into a £70million brand after just 18 months. 

Price said of the typical M&S customer: ‘They like to dress smartly but not overly formally. Not fashion forward but they really do take care in the way that they choose their outfits – and in the past we have not really helped them enough with this task.’

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