Marks & Spencer reveals shoppers are buying PJS and vegetables but not suits during lockdown

Locked-down Britons are buying more pyjamas, bedding and food but fewer suits and ties from Marks & Spencer (M&S) as they adapt to a new way of life.

Over 360,000 existing M&S customers hopped online for the first time during lockdown, while the company gained 315,000 new online shoppers.  

M&S analysis shows that people are shopping at their food halls less frequently as they buy more big packs of fresh food like chicken, salmon and strawberries. 

Sales of comfy wear including yoga leggings, kids sleepwear, as well as bedding, towels and non-wired bras have sold well during lockdown.

But the retailer said today that sales of suits and ties have plunged as workers stay at home, while it expects overall sales in its clothing and home arm to decline 70 per cent – around £1.5billion – this financial year. 

The analysis comes as M&S reported a 21 per cent fall in annual profits as it announced substantial cost-cutting measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis.  

Locked-down Britons are buying more pyjamas, bedding and food but fewer suits and ties from Marks & Spencer (M&S) as they adapt to a new way of life

M&S kids' character PJ sets

M&S strawberries

People are buying large packs of fresh and frozen food, including chicken, salmon and strawberries (right), while sales of kids’ character PJ sets (left) are up by 495 per cent

M&S salmon

M&S sports bra

M&S shoppers are buying more big packs of fresh produce at food halls including salmon (left) as M&S sold over 105 per cent more non-wired bras and 151 per cent more sports bras (right)

Rice and pasta sales are up 125 per cent and 95 per cent during lockdown on last year, while 17 per cent more customers are buying frozen products. 

People are leaving their homes less frequently as they buy large packs of fresh and frozen food, including chicken, salmon, strawberries, rice and pasta. 

Sales of the company’s entire sleepwear category were up 125 per cent on the year, with kids character PJ sets up by 495 per cent.

Online sales of bras rose by 60 per cent on the year, while M&S sold over 105 per cent more non-wired bras and 151 per cent more sports bras. 

Bedding sales are up by 150 per cent since the start of lockdown, while 12,000 bounce back pillows have been sold in the same period. 

And there was a 411 per cent increase in flower sales on last year overall – 141 per cent higher than Valentine’s Day and 61 per cent more than Christmas – as they celebrate special occasions in a new way during lockdown.  

M&S reported a 21 per cent fall in annual profits as it announced substantial cost-cutting measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis (pictured, store in Shrewsbury)

M&S reported a 21 per cent fall in annual profits as it announced substantial cost-cutting measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis (pictured, store in Shrewsbury) 

Chief executive Steve Rowe said the coronavirus crisis has ‘galvanised our colleagues to secure the future of the business’ as he unveiled cost cuts of £1billion, plans to sell clothes via its new partner Ocado, and more focus on food.

The unveiling of its ‘never the same again’ overhaul comes as the retailer posted a 21 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £403.1million in the year to the end of March, which only captures the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. 

M&S, which has furloughed 27,000 employees, has set out some harsh estimates on the impact of coronavirus on trading this year.  

As with other fashion businesses, one of the biggest challenges arising from the crisis is the mounting backlog of unsold stock for spring/summer 2020 and the pipeline of stock already ordered for autumn/winter. 

But M&S said it plans to cushion that with a combination of write-downs, hibernation of the stock for potential future sales, albeit at significantly lower prices, and a reduction of future purchasing commitments.

Mr Rowe, who last month unveiled plans for its ‘never the same again’ overhaul said that the new Ocado joint venture is an ‘integral part’ of its new strategy.  

Some 6,000 M&S lines will be added to Ocado in September when the partnership kicks in, and 1,600 clothing and home products will also be sold via Ocado.

Some 6,000 M&S lines will be added to the Ocado food range in September when the new partnership kicks in, and some 1,600 clothing and home products will also be sold via Ocado

Some 6,000 M&S lines will be added to the Ocado food range in September when the new partnership kicks in, and some 1,600 clothing and home products will also be sold via Ocado

‘Whilst some customer habits will return to normal others have changed forever, the trend towards digital has been accelerated, and changes to the shape of the high street brought forward,’ the CEO said.

‘Most importantly working habits have been transformed and we have discovered we can work in a faster, leaner, more effective way.

‘I am determined to act now to capture this and deliver a renewed, more agile business in a world that will never be the same again.’  

Richard Hunter at Interactive Investor thinks the Covid-19 crisis ‘may unwittingly have provided M&S with the catalyst it needed to overhaul its slumbering prospects’.

‘The direct impact of the pandemic may have been felt mostly in its stores and largely therefore on its clothing and home lines, but it has also galvanised the company into a rethink of the entire business, scything through layers of unnecessary processes and costs in anticipation of how the consumer may shop on the other side of the current economic shock,’ he added.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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