In the first quarter 2020, H&M group’s net sales increased by 8 percent to SEK 54,948 m (51,015). In local currencies, the company’s net sales increased by 5 percent. Its sales development in the second half of the quarter was negatively impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in China. From 1 December 2019 to 23 January 2020 sales in China increased by 27 percent in local currency.
However, demand then decreased significantly as a result of the rapid development of the virus and therefore H&M group’s sales in China decreased by 24 percent in the quarter as a whole. At its peak, 334 of the group’s 518 stores in China were closed in February.
Excluding China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Japan and Taiwan the H&M group’s sales in the quarter increased by 7 percent in local currencies.
So far in March sales have been negatively affected mainly in Europe as a consequence of the continued spread of the virus. The situation in every country is changing rapidly. Following decisions by the authorities, all of the group’s stores are temporarily closed in Italy since the past few days and during the weekend all stores were also closed temporarily in Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Belgium, France and partly in Greece. All of the group’s stores in Austria, Luxembourg, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia and Kazakhstan are closing from Monday. The online store remains open. In China sales have gradually started to recover as the situation in the country has improved.
The H&M group is working extensively to manage the COVID-19 situation, the highest priority being the safety of employees and customers. While the H&M group’s transformation work continues at full speed, all activities in the company are now being carefully evaluated – including from a cost and risk perspective – so as to be able to mitigate the negative effects associated with the virus as far as possible. Further information will be provided when the interim report for Q1 is published on 3 April.