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Online retailer Boohoo sales drop 11% in Christmas period

FILE PHOTO: A woman poses with a smartphone showing the Boohoo app in front of the Boohoo logo on display in this illustration

LONDON (Reuters) -British online fashion retailer Boohoo said revenue fell 11% in its key Christmas trading period, hurt by delivery disruption and tough comparatives, as it broadly stuck to annual guidance.

For its financial year which ends on Feb. 28, Boohoo, which sells clothing, shoes and accessories aimed at 16 to 40-year olds, said adjusted core earnings would be in line with market expectations.

Its forecast for a 12% decline in annual revenue was slightly behind the downgraded guidance for a 10% drop it gave in September.

The sales fall during the Christmas period, the four months to the end of December, was partly due to longer delivery times, said Boohoo, and its UK market, where sales were also down 11%, was against a tough comparative period, as last year, COVID-19 meant shoppers favoured online orders.

The weaker trading, which echoed a sales fall at online-only peer ASOS, is in contrast to a stronger performance from more traditional retailers such as Next, Marks & Spencer and JD Sports, which posted sales growth despite Britain being in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

Those retailers noted that store sales benefited from delivery problems in Britain, where postal strikes, made people worry about orders turning up in time.

Looking ahead, Boohoo said that while the demand outlook was uncertain, it expected cost inflation to moderate in the second half of 2023, and its focus on reducing inventory levels and cost control would stand it in good stead for future growth.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton)