Next has achieved a 3.9 per cent increase in sales over the festive period, as revealed in its trading statement, published today.
The biggest sales rise came from the fashion retailer’s directory section, which increased its sales by 11.2 per cent from November 1st to December 24th 2012 while sales in store were up 0.8 per cent in the same period.
Next said that its post-Christmas sale had “started well” and that sales were meeting the retailer’s expectations.
“Slightly better than expected” cost control measures, markdowns and gross margins have also enabled the retailer to narrow its profit guidance to the top of its pervious range of £590 million to £620 million.
Profit before tax is now expected to be between £611 million and £625 million, equalling growth of up to 9.6 per cent.
The retailer’s targets for the year ahead included continuing the growth of the Next Directory online business, making further cost savings, and returning surplus cash to shareholders through share buybacks.
In a statement, a Next spokesman said: “We think it is unlikely there will be any dramatic change in the consumer environment in the year ahead.
“Healthy employment numbers mean that there is little risk of a significant downturn.
“However, the continued growth in price inflation ahead of wage inflation means that real wages will continue to fall, albeit at a slower rate than last year.
“On balance, we expect the consumer environment to remain subdued but steady.”