British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has posted a 0.7% decrease in group sales for the first quarter of 2012 amid tough high street conditions in the UK.

Total UK sales were down by 0.9% in the 13-week period ending 30 June 2012, while general merchandise sales declined 5.1% during the same period.

On a like-for-like basis, UK sales slipped 2.8% with food sales up 0.6% and general merchandise sales down 6.8%.

The retailer said its food business performed well, rising 2.9% in the UK, despite a tough market and challenging comparatives.

The company said that it launched over 700 new products, including over 200 British inspired lines, in addition to ‘Simply M&S’ range.

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland said the company’s food business has again performed strongly, but general merchandise underperformed in a difficult trading season.

"We are pleased with the performance in Multi-channel and our key International businesses, which are continuing to make good progress," Bolland added.

Multi-channel sales went up by 14.9%, as the firm has launched a number of new initiatives aimed at improving our customers’ shopping experience, including the re-launch of its mobile website.

However, clothing sales continued to be impacted by the merchandising issues in its Spring/Summer collections reported in April.

In Home section, key departments of kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms delivered a positive performance, while other sales continue to be impacted by the retailer’s decision to withdraw from technology as well as weak demand for big ticket items.

International sales rose 0.9%, and key international markets in India and China continued to trade strongly with double digit growth.