By Reuters Staff
FILE PHOTO: Clients wait in front of a re-opened H&M clothing store after the Swiss government relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues, at the Bahnhofstrasse shopping street in Zurich, Switzerland March 4, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sales at fashion group H&M fell slightly less than expected in the three months through February and rose in the first half of March as pandemic restrictions were eased in some markets, allowing hundreds of stores to reopen.
The worlds second-biggest apparel retailer said on Monday net sales fell 27% from a year earlier, or 21% measured in local currencies, to 40.1 billion crowns ($4.72 billion).
Analysts had on average forecast a 30% decline in net sales in the period – H&Ms fiscal first quarter – according to Refinitiv SmartEstimate.
Sales development was significantly affected by the COVID-19 situation, with extensive restrictions and at most over 1,800 stores temporarily closed, H&M said in a statement.
Since the beginning of February, a number of markets have gradually allowed stores to reopen and at the end of the quarter around 1,300 stores remained temporarily closed.
H&M said sales in the March 113 period were up 10% in local currencies as many countries, including its biggest market Germany, begun allowing some stores to reopen. On March 13, around 900 of H&Ms around 5,000 stores remained closed due to government lockdowns to fight the pandemic.
($1 = 8.4917 Swedish crowns)