Belfast Telegraph

Summer helps Next melt sales war freeze

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Better weather has helped fashion and homeware chain Next fight back from an alarming sales slump during the freeze earlier this year.

Takings in stores were down 0.9% for the half-year to the end of July, but this included a period at the start of the year when they fell 1.9%.

Performance was boosted by stay-at-home online and catalogue shopping, up 8.3%, giving Next an overall 2.3% sales increase, in line with expectations.

A breakdown of total week-by-week sales showed how they dipped alarmingly during the cold weather, plummeting by around £12m in the week to April 6.

But tills were set ringing again as the thaw set in, with a number of weeks in April, May, June and July showing improvements.

The company said weekly sales volatility showed how consumers were becoming more spontaneous in their buying habits, affected by short-term events such as the weather, bank holidays and school breaks.

There was a smaller end-of-season sale period, when takings dropped compared to last year.

Next said the period leading up to July 13 when the discounts started showed revenues up 3.7%, reflecting better full-price sales.

The company said the combined effect of higher full-price sales and lower markdowns added £10million to first-half profits.

It increased its forecast for full-year pre-tax earnings and shares in the FTSE 100 listed retailer were up nearly 3%.

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