Retailing

Is M&S heading for relegation?

M&S store
BBC

Is Marks and Spencer going to be relegated from the FTSE 100?

The next reshuffle of the UK share indexes is due to take place next week, and M&S is "certain" to be dropped from the benchmark index according to Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre.

"Marks and Spencer for so long has been a candidate for going down only to just escape at the last minute," says Mr Miah.

"The last time around it was saved by its well-timed rights issue, but alas, it can only hold out for so long and this time there seems little that can save it from going down bar a spectacular recovery in the share price.

"M&S for many generations has been a stalwart of the UK retail market and a founding member of the FTSE 100, its relegation will be highly symbolic of the troubles on the UK high street and the challenges the UK retail sector faces as the internet plays an increasingly important role."

UK retail sales volumes in a handy graphic

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Poor CBI retail figures are a 'significant blow'

Shoppers
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Reacting to the poor CBI retail sales data, Howard Archer, chief economist of the EY Item Club, says: "The CBI distributive trades survey points to sharply weakened retail sales in August, thereby dealing a significant blow to hopes that consumers are continuing to spend at a reasonable pace and can help the economy return to growth in the third quarter.

"Admittedly, actual retail sales have recently tended to be stronger than indicated by ths CBI's survey and latest actual data from the ONS show retail sales held up pretty well in July.

"Nevertheless, the serious weakness of the August CBI survey showing the sales balance at the lowest level since December 2008 at -49% is concerning."

BreakingRetail sales fall at fastest rate since 2008

Shopping on UK high street
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The CBI says that UK retail sales in August dropped at the fastest pace since December 2008.

The business group said that its monthly gauge of retailers fell to -49 in August from -16 in which is the second weakest reading since records began in 1983.

CBI deputy chief economist Anna Leach, says: "Sentiment is crumbling among retailers, and unexpectedly weak sales have led to a large overhang of stocks.

"With investment intentions for the year ahead and employment down, retailers expect a chilly few months ahead."

Laura Ashley 'latest victim of High Street malaise'

Laura Ashley store
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Some reaction now to those disappointing full-year Laura Ashley results.

Julie Palmer, partner at corporate recovery specialists Begbies Traynor, says: "As a troubled High Street continues to cause turmoil for retailers, Laura Ashley is the latest to fall victim to the malaise sweeping the sector, as sales flatlined over the past year.

"The news won’t come as a surprise for shareholders, following dismal trading conditions and two profit warnings announced earlier this year. The loss of £14.3m has been impacted by a relaunched website which is still teething and poor homeware sales. Laura Ashley has already closed a number of stores, and there could be more bad news to come as footfall continues to plummet on the High Street."

She adds: "Although the company has announced plans to expand its presence in China, the brand will need to invest heavily to make itself more aspirational and attract consumers, while new trading tariffs mean this market may not provide the injection that the business needs to get back on its feet."

Shoppers clicking but not collecting

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While online shopping is growing apace, retailers are still struggling to make click and collect services work.

In total, one in seven shoppers said they have failed to pick up a parcel after buying it, according to reserach by Barclaycard.

The financial services firm estimates shoppers are leaving items worth a total of £228m a year uncollected.

Shoppers are automatically reimbursed by retailers if they do not collect their online orders after a certain period of time.

Kirsty Morris, director at Barclaycard Payment Solutions, says retailers need to improve their offering, for example by offering instore experiences, to persuade shoppers to collect their parcels.

“Enhancing the Click & Collect experience is a potentially lucrative way for retailers to ward off the unprecedented challenges of the high street and bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping.”

Home Depot cuts sales outlook on lumber and tariffs

Man looks at lumber at Home Deport
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American DIY giant, Home Depot, has reduced its full year sales expectations because of falling lumber prices and the potential impact of new US tariffs on Chinese imports.

Home Depot now expects revenue growth of 2.3% for 2019, down from a previous 3.3% improvement.

Lumber prices have fallen steeply from a high reached in May last year. Reuters reports that land and labour shortages have constrained builders' ability to construct new houses, creating a supply glut for the key building material.

While Home Depot beat sales expectations for the second quarter - with sales at $3.5bn - chairman, chief executive and president Craig Menear, said: "Lumber prices have declined significantly compared to last year, which impacts our sales growth.

"As a result, we are updating our sales guidance to account primarily for continued lumber price deflation, as well as potential impacts to the US consumer arising from recently announced tariffs."