H&M Sees Q4 Sales Decline 10%

PARIS — H&M Group posted a 10 percent decline in fourth-quarter sales in local currencies, trumpeting a strong recovery for much of the period, before a second wave of lockdowns weighed on business.

Sales for the fourth quarter came to 52.54 billion Swedish kronor, or $6.24 billion, during the period. A 3 percent sales decline in the first part of the quarter deepened to a 22 percent decline as a new wave of coronavirus measures swept across its markets.

The company releases full-quarter results on Jan. 29.

“Industry conditions have remained challenging for H&M,” noted Richard Chamberlain of RBC, citing the negative impact of further lockdowns and social-distancing measures. The analyst flagged good momentum for the retailer before the second wave of coronavirus restrictions.

The Swedish fast-fashion retailer had outperformed expectations last quarter with stronger full-price sales, a key issue for a company that had been caught in discounting spirals in past years.

The retailer has undergone a broad overhaul, improving digital services and refocusing its offer. Signs of improvement were just emerging as the coronavirus crisis hit.

The group, which operates Cos, Monki and Weekday in addition to H&M, has reacted to the crisis by cutting costs and renegotiating leases for its sprawling network of stores.

Analysts have forecast a modest pace of recovery for the fast-fashion industry.

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