SHARE OF THE WEEK: M&S will shine a light on the state of the High Street

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

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 both overcame the pessimism weighing on retailers, with sales of food, clothing and merchandise holding up surprisingly well through the autumn.

Investors are hoping a half-year update from the 138-year-old retailer on Wednesday will tell a similar story.

M&S has revamped its food offering under boss Stuart Machin, who has been in office since May.

The company is also benefiting from a clothing overhaul led by co-chef Katie Bickerstaffe.

But his turnaround plan, which showed green shoots under former boss Steve Rowe, has been side-tracked by the spiraling cost of living. Shares have halved this year, leaving the company worth just over £2billion.

And analysts fear M&S could lose buyers to cheaper rivals as households tighten their belts. There are also fears that its homewares sales may be under pressure as struggling consumers delay purchases amid the pressure.

But the focus will be on its outlook for the coming months and next year.

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

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