Next sees strong online sales over holiday period

UK fashion retailer Next has revealed its holiday sales results, with surge in online shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas contributing to a 1.5 per cent full priced sales increase seen for the period compared to the year prior.

Online sales for the period were 2.2 per cent ahead of expectations at $30.6 million (£17 million), while retail sales fell 1.7 per cent to $28.8 million (£16 million).

Next chief executive Simon Wolfson told Reuters the switch to online trading rather than physical retail trading was more pronounced over the Christmas period, and that the trend was “definitely continuing.”

“It’s one that retailers are going to have to grapple with and get used to,” Wolfson said.

The retailer laid out sales and profit guidance for the year ahead, noting expectations of full price sales growth of 1.7 per cent, with online sales growing 1.1 per cent and retail sales falling 8.5 per cent, as well as a group profit before tax of $1.29 billion (£715 million) – 1.1 per cent lower than the year prior.

However, the company notes any sales forecast made in January comes with a degree of uncertainty due to the performance of the UK economy after Brexit.

“We have not factored into our sales estimates the potential benefits of a smooth transition or the downsides of a disorderly Brexit,” the company said in a note to investors.

The business is scheduled to announce its full year results in March, which will come with updated, detailed guidance on the year ahead.

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