Marks & Spencer is set to shrug off gloomy warnings from rival Next and show a modest recovery in its clothing arm when it posts Christmas figures today.
The retail bellwether, led by Steve Rowe, is expected by most analysts to have eked out a 0.2% rise in third-quarter sales across its general merchandise business, which would mark the division's first sales growth since early 2015.
It would come despite City fears over fashion sales on the high street after Next last week warned over profits following dismal Christmas trading.
Next boss Lord Wolfson sounded the alarm over an "even tougher" 2017 as he said there was no end in sight to the shift away from spending on fashion.
Clive Black, at Shore Capital, said many of the woes at Next are "centred on company rather than market-specific matters".
The M&S clothing division recovery is expected to be largely down to an exceptionally weak performance a year earlier, when sales slumped by nearly 6%. One analyst said he expected clothing and homeware sales to be up as much as 1% this Christmas.