// Next reported £75m more in Q1 sales than predicted for the 13 week period ending May 1
// Next originally expected a 10% fall in sales, but they were only 1.5% below the same three months in 2019
// The sales improvement prompts Next to up profit targets by £20m to £720m for the current financial year
Next has lifted its profit targets for the year after recent quarterly sales bounced above expectations.
The fashion retail giant said it reported £75 million more in sales than predicted for the 13 week period ending May 1.
It said the first quarter sales were only 1.5 per cent below the same three months in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. Next had originally expected a 10 per cent fall.
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The sales improvement has led the retailer to raise its profit targets by £20 million to £720 million for the current financial year.
Next revealed that store sales surged after it reopened shops across England and Wales from April 12 as part of the easing of lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail.
It said total full price sales have risen by 19 per cent over the past three weeks as a result.
Sales from retail stores increased by two per cent against pre-pandemic levels, but growth was still significantly driven by its online business, which reported a 52 per cent lift.
However, the firm told shareholders this morning that it expects the surge in sales to ease back.
“Evidence from last year suggests that this post lockdown surge will be short lived, and we expect sales to settle back down to our guidance levels within the next few weeks,” Next said in a statement.
It is still expecting total sales to rise by three per cent over the year, with retail store sales falling by a fifth due to the impact of virus curbs.
Next stressed that its robust recent sales have been driven by online channels, which saw 65 per cent growth over the past three weeks.
It said it was “not the case” that almost all lost store sales were transferred online, with the company buoyed by online sales of Next homeware, third-party brands and childrenswear.
with PA Wires