Belfast Telegraph

Next retailer to face decline in Christmas sales figures

By Ravender Sembhy

Fashion chain Next, which has around 20 stores in Northern Ireland, will kick off Christmas trading updates tomorrow as high street firms continue to struggle amid difficult conditions.

City analysts expect the company to post another set of disappointing figures, with broker Numis pencilling in a 0.5% decline in total sales in the two months to Christmas Eve.

The group saw a 7.7% plunge in sales across its high street shops in the third quarter, while its directory arm recorded a 13.2% rise.

In March, the group reported its first drop in annual profits since the financial crisis with a 3.8% fall to £790.2m.

However, it's possible its Northern Ireland stores will perform better than elsewhere in the UK after figures for the Boxing Day sales from information company Springboard reported a 22.9% year-on-year increase in footfall.

But UK-wide data suggests footfall in the last trading week before Christmas fell by 7.1% year-on-year, while on Boxing Day it plummeted 5.9%. It comes as the retail sector is hammered by a combination of rising costs linked to the Brexit-hit pound and the resultant collapse in consumer confidence.

Chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson said last month that cautious consumers were only buying "as and when they need".

Belfast Telegraph

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