Oct 7, 2020
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Tesco clothing sales fall despite lockdown easing

Oct 7, 2020

Tesco mentioned clothing only once in its extensive half-year results report, but that was perhaps no surprise given that sales of the category fell over 17% in the latest six months.


The first half, which covered the period to the end of August, actually saw overall group sales rising 6.6% to £26.7 billion as supermarkets proved to be a key destination during the lockdown and afterwards. 

But clothing was down 17.2% during the period as consumers were clearly less interested in buying the company’s fashion offer than its foods. Meanwhile, general merchandise also fell (but only by 0.3%), both categories suffering as food sales surged 9.2%.

Operating profit was down 4.5%, despite the rising sales, to £1.007 billion, although the company said that its pre-tax profit rose 28.7% to £551 million.

It's the latest piece of evidence showing the impact of the pandemic on fashion sales with other supermarkets also having said that consumers were more focused on essentials than fashion for most of this year.

So it was understandable that the company didn't want to discuss fashion further, although to be honest, it rarely calls out the category even when it's doing well.

However, despite the lack of detail, it's clear that the company must have recovered some ground on the fashion front during the second quarter as its clothing sales in Q1 had fallen 20%. The 17.2% drop for Q1 and Q2 combined does indicate some level of recovery, although it’s clear that fashion was still not a shopper priority from June onwards.

The company has been supporting its F&F clothing offer with TV advertising since the second half started.

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