H&M suffers first fall in sales since March

Warm weather across Europe has failed to boost trading at H&M, which today revealed a surprise drop in sales for July.

The world’s second-largest clothing retailer after Spain’s Inditex said like-for-like sales dipped 1 per cent – its first monthly fall since March.

Analysts had expected the Swedish group to report a 1 per cent increase in sales. The firm had 2,940 stores at the end of July, up from 2,603 a year earlier.

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H&M, which generates about 70 per cent of its sales in Europe, did not comment on today’s figures but chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said in June that the firm’s new collections had sold surprisingly well to date.

However, he noted that this could be down to pent-up demand after chilly weather held back shopping in the spring, rather than a rise in underlying demand.

Cantor analyst Allegra Perry, who has a “sell” rating on H&M’s shares, said: “The group should have benefited from warm weather in July across Europe. In addition, we note that July is a promotional month and H&M had higher-than-anticipated inventory as of the end of May.”