15 May 2020 20:32
British retailer Marks & Spencer launched a clothing sale on Thursday to help clear stock built up in the coronavirus lockdown, tapping into widespread public support for health workers by giving some proceeds to NHS charities. With Britain having been in lockdown since March 23, the country's store-based clothing retailers are sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds of spring and summer stock, which they are now looking to unload as the restrictions start to ease. Last month Primark booked a 284 million pound ($347 million) charge to reflect an expected lower value of stock when its stores reopen. M&S, Britain's biggest clothing retailer by sales, said it will donate 10 percent of the customer purchase price, excluding VAT sales tax, of all sale items to NHS Charities Together, with whom the retailer has an exclusive arrangement. The charity will use its cut to support staff, volunteers and patients.
National Health Service (NHS) workers have widespread public support in Britain as they try to treat still growing numbers of COVID-19 cases. The disease has killed 33,186 in the UK. Read also: Britain at its best in a crisis, says Prince William The vast majority of M&S's in-store clothing business has been closed since the lockdown started. It has only been able to trade a small amount of space adjacent to its food halls, which have remained open. Its online business has also traded through the lockdown.
M&S said the "Rainbow" sale will include all clothing departments - womenswear & lingerie, menswear and kidswear, with at least 50 percent off all items. Examples of initial sale items include a women's jumpsuit for 29 pounds ($35), down from 59 pounds and a shirt dress for 22 pounds, down from 45 pounds. Last month M&S said its planning was based on its clothing and home business enduring subdued trading for the rest of this year. It also warned that its food division had been impacted by fewer people travelling into city centers. M&S is due to publish 2019-20 results next Wednesday, when it is also expected to update on measures taken to reduce costs and protect cash during the crisis Marks & Spencer has launched an online-only 'rainbow' clothing sale with discounts of at least 50% across all categories as it looks to clear unsold stock. Ten per cent of takings will be donated to NHS Charities Together. The sale takes M&S' recent promotional activity on a step. It has previously run deals of the day online with a range of offers such as buy one get one free and three for two on kids clothes. Shoppers can choose to buy from its Rainbow sale online or from the M&S app and choose between contactless home delivery or free collection from stores. Collection points in stores have temporarily been moved closer to the food hall. Ellie Orton, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said: "During this time the rainbow has become a symbol of hope and I want to say a big thank you to M&S and all their colleagues and customers for supporting our appeal with the Rainbow Sale, in addition to the other activity they've done. The money raised from this sale will be used by NHS charities to provide vital support to staff, volunteers and patients." M&S is one of a number of retailers currently running sales on selected categories, notably clothing. Debenhams is offering 30% off women's fashion and home products as well as 20% off beauty and fragrance and Boohoo is offering up to 50% off everything. But others, including John Lewis and H&M are currently maintaining full-price strategies. Some, including Fatface and Next, are clearing stock through discounts of up to 50% that are shown on specific clearance pages on their websites but not highlighted on their home pages. Many retailers have been left with unsold stock following the closure of non-essential shops during the coronavirus pandemic. Figures from the IMRG e-retail trade association have suggested that clothing sales have been particularly hard hit. The news comes as M&S confirmed Richard Price would start as managing director, clothing and home, on July 6, taking over responsibility for those areas from chief executive Steve Rowe. M&S chief executive Rowe said: "Richard joins us at a crucial time. I am confident that his leadership of a much-strengthened team and track record of delivering growth through great value, stylish product will accelerate the transformation of our clothing and home business and build on the improvements in product, value and availability over the past year." Image: Screenshot of marksandspencer.com