Marks & Spencer has stellar Christmas after customers splash out

Marks & Spencer has stellar Christmas after customers splash out on its festive food ranges, according to closely guarded industry data

Marks & Spencer has had a stellar Christmas after customers splashed out on its festive food ranges, according to closely guarded industry data.

The high street giant’s food sales soared by 10.5 per cent in the four weeks to December 25 compared with 2021, according to the figures.

The increase puts it well clear of its main rivals. It also means the chain is set to hail its second bumper Christmas performance in a row at its food division. Sales last year grew by a similar amount.

Tasty result: Shoppers splashed out on M&S’s luxury food products

M&S will also reveal on Thursday how its clothing business fared.

The figures, prepared by market research firm Kantar, have been circulated among top food industry executives. They reveal a clear division between firms holding their own and those falling behind.

Sales at Tesco and Sainsbury’s increased by 8.5 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively over the four weeks. Those at Waitrose rose by 1.5 per cent, while Morrisons fell.

Customers feeling the pinch have already been switching to discount ers Aldi and Lidl, which have already been revealed as the two Christmas winners in the food sector, with sales up by a fifth. M&S has been targeting Tesco and Sainsbury customers in an effort to tempt them into spending more in its food halls and convenience stores.

The retailer is adding ranges to its delivery service with Ocado including more budget products. But M&S, which is known for its luxurious ranges, has also worked hard to make further improvements in its signature products, which include the Cherry & Orange Liqueur Christmas Pudding Wreath and its Blood Orange & Cranberry Vodka.

Stuart Machin, the former boss of its grocery division, was promoted to chief executive two years ago in recognition of his success boosting its performance. One industry executive said: ‘M&S has the momentum that some of its rivals, particularly Waitrose, would die for. The indications are that it is gathering pace at Marks & Spencer – while Waitrose seems to be falling further behind.’

But grocery stores are under growing financial pressure from rising labour, energy and raw material costs. Annual food price inflation jumped to 13.3 per cent in December, and prices are expected to rise further in the early part of this year.

Retailers had a sluggish November, but there are growing signs that shoppers splashed out in December, despite a cost-of-living squeeze and a wave of strikes that threatened to stifle demand.

M&S shares received a lift last week – rising 11.5 per cent – after a positive statement from fashion rival Next. Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said the performance from Next, pasty shop Greggs and value retailer B&M ‘heartened’ the City for the coming slew of statements from others.

He said analysis by Next boss Lord Wolfson suggests a more ‘stable and improved’ period may be coming for the high street.

Tesco will reveal its Christmas trading figures on Thursday. Sainsbury’s publishes its figures on Wednesday.