Next has recorded another period of sales growth in its directory division, subsequently offsetting the continuing decline seen across its physical stores.
The fashion retailer’s directory sales surged 13.2 per cent in the three month period ending October 29, but its in-store sales slumped 7.7 per cent during the same period.
The results continue the trend from the first half of the year where Next’s healthy directory offset its struggling shops.
Meanwhile full-price sales had a 1.3 per cent uptick, a significant improvement on the three per cent decline that was recorded in the first quarter.
For the year to date, sales at Next have edged down by 0.3 per cent, although the retailer said this was in line with its central guidance for the year.
When factoring in markdowns, the high street stalwart’s total sales inched up 0.8 per cent in the third quarter, but for the year to date it was down 1.2 per cent.
Next said its sales performance had remained “extremely volatile” and dependent on the weather.
“In August and September sales were significantly up on last year, as cooler temperatures
improved sales of warmer weight stock,” the retailer said in a statement.
“The change in sales trend came at precisely the same time UK temperatures became warmer than last year.”
Next predicted that its fourth quarter will comprise of a 0.3 per cent drop in sales.
“This may seem pessimistic compared with our performance in the third quarter particularly as we believe that our product ranges have continued to improve,” it said.
”However, as we highlighted in September, the third quarter last year was very weak, whereas the Christmas trading period was only down -0.4 per cent. So the comparative numbers are much more demanding in the last quarter.”
Regarded as the bellwether of fashion retail in the UK, Next’s trading updates often leads to a domino effect on the stock market and wider retail industry.