H&M's March-May sales tumble by less than expected 50%

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – H&M (HMb.ST), the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, on Monday reported a sharp but slightly smaller than expected drop in second-quarter sales as measures to slow the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the sector.

The Swedish company’s net sales for the three months to May 31 fell 50% year on year to 28.7 billion crowns ($3.1 billion). Analysts had on average forecast a fall to 27.5 billion, Refinitiv data shows.

H&M, which began a gradual reopening of stores in late April after about 80% had been shuttered by the pandemic, said that local-currency sales in the first 13 days of June were down 30%.

“The pace of the sales recovery varies largely between markets,” it said.

Biggest rival Inditex (ITX.MC), the owner of Zara, last week reported a loss on a 44% sales drop for the February-April period and said that constant-currency sales were down 34% over June 2-8.

Shares in H&M, which on April 3 flagged that it would make its first quarterly loss in many decades in the second quarter, were down 24% this year at Friday’s closing price.

H&M, which reports full quarterly earnings on June 26, said that 18% of its 5,058 stores remain closed temporarily.

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