Fashion giant H&M's sales recover in March

Sales at fashion group H&M fell less than expected in the company's fiscal first quarter.

And even rose in the first half of March.

The positive news came as restrictions were eased in some markets, allowing hundreds of stores to reopen.

The world's second-biggest apparel retailer said on Monday (March 15) that net sales for the period fell 27% from a year earlier to $4.7 billion.

Analysts had on average forecast a 30% decline.

As well as some stores being allowed to reopen, H&M added that online sales had continued to develop well.

The Swedish group said sales in the first two weeks of March were up 10% in local currencies.

That was as many countries, including single-biggest market Germany, began allowing some stores to reopen.

However, almost a fifth of H&M's approximately 5,000 stores remain closed due to lockdowns.

Shares in H&M rose 3% in early trading, before dropping back.

They're up close to 30% on the year.

Market leader Inditex, the owner of Zara, last week forecast a return to healthy sales as soon as restrictions are lifted.

It reported a 70% fall in profit for its fiscal year through January.