People walking past Marks and Spencer storeImage copyright

Marks & Spencer is cutting 7,000 jobs over the next three months across its stores and management.

It said the coronavirus pandemic had made it clear there had a been a “material shift in trade”.

In-store sales of clothing and home goods were “well below” 2019, although online and home deliveries were strong.

The retailer said it expected a “significant proportion” of the jobs to go through voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

In a statement, M&S said it was “too early to predict with precision where a new post-Covid sales mix will settle. We must now act to reflect this change”.

But the retailer said operating during the pandemic had showed it could work “more flexibly and productively”, with more staff multi-tasking and moving between food, clothing and home departments.

At the height of lockdown in May, M&S boss Steve Rowe said customers might “never shop the same way again” after the coronavirus crisis.

“Whilst some customer habits will return to normal, others have changed forever,” he said.

And last month the retailer announced 950 store management and head office jobs were at risk because it needed to accelerate its restructuring.

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