SHARE OF THE WEEK: M&S to shine light on state of High Street

SHARE OF THE WEEK: Marks & Spencer figures to shed light on the state of the High Street ahead of crucial Christmas period

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Marks & Spencer will shed light next week on the state of the High Street ahead of the crucial Christmas period.

Last week’s figures showed Next and Sainsbury’s overcoming the gloom hanging over retailers, with food, clothing and merchandise sales holding up surprisingly well into the fall.

Investors are expecting a mid-year update from the 138-year-old retailer on Wednesday to tell a similar story.

M&S has been revamping its food offerings under the direction of Stuart Machin, who has been in the role since May.

The business is also benefiting from a clothing review led by co-director Katie Bickerstaffe.

But his turnaround plan, showing green shoots under former boss Steve Rowe, has been thrown off course by skyrocketing costs of living. Shares have halved this year, leaving the business worth just over £2bn.

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And analysts worry that M&S ​​may be losing shoppers to cheaper rivals as households tighten their belts. There are also fears that its sales of home goods will come under pressure as hard-pressed consumers delay purchases amid the lockdown.

But the biggest focus will be on your outlook for the coming months and the year ahead.

Shore Capital retail analyst Clive Black believes M&S will have traded “well” in food and apparel for the six months to October. But he said: “The challenge is the next six to nine months, with interest rates rising and the chancellor’s statement in two weeks that he is likely to raise taxes and cut spending.”

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