British retailer Marks & Spencer has launched a clothing sale to help clear stock built up in the coronavirus lockdown, tapping into widespread public support for health workers by giving some proceeds to NHS charities. 

With Britain having been in lockdown since March 23, the UK's store-based clothing retailers are sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds of spring and summer stock, which they are now looking to unload as the restrictions start to ease. 

Last month Primark booked a £284m charge to reflect an expected lower value of stock when its stores reopen. 

M&S, Britain's biggest clothing retailer by sales, said it will donate 10% of the customer purchase price, excluding VAT sales tax, of all sale items to NHS Charities Together, with whom the retailer has an exclusive arrangement. 

The charity will use its cut to support staff, volunteers and patients. 

The vast majority of M&S's in-store clothing business has been closed since the lockdown started. It has only been able to trade a small amount of space adjacent to its food halls, which have remained open. Its online business has also traded through the lockdown. 

M&S said the "Rainbow" sale will include all clothing departments - womenswear and lingerie, menswear and kidswear, with at least 50% off all items. 

Last month M&S said its planning was based on its clothing and home business enduring subdued trading for the rest of this year. It also warned that its food division had been impacted by fewer people travelling into city centres. 

M&S is due to publish 2019-20 results next Wednesday, when it is also expected to update on measures taken to reduce costs and protect cash during the crisis.