H&M is lagging behind Zara and pre-Covid levels

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H&M's sales rose less than expected in the three months leading up to the end of August and remained well below the pre-pandemic levels. Covid restrictions are still keeping many shoppers away from stores.

 

Restrictions continue to play a role

In the past quarter, H&M's revenue did rise 9 % to 55.6 billion Swedish kronor (5.5 billion euros), but that was well below the 14 % of net sales growth predicted by analysts, Reuters reports. Compared to the same period in 2019 - i.e. before the pandemic - sales fell by 11 %: sales continued to be hindered by the Covid measures, especially in Asia and Australia.

 

At the start of the third quarter, around 180 stores were temporarily closed. In many markets, the stores that were allowed to open were confronted with restrictions on, for example, opening hours or the number of customers permitted in-store. At the end of August, around one hundred stores were still temporarily closed.

 

Slow recovery

H&M returned to profit in the April-June quarter, after making a loss a year earlier due to the pandemic, with sales 4 % higher compared to 2019. However, by the end of the quarter, sales were already slowing.

 

The Swedish fashion chain is thus recovering from the Covid crisis significantly slower than big rival Inditex. The holding company of Zara and Massimo Dutti, among others, announced record results yesterday.

 

H&M will publish its full quarterly report on 30 September.