Next’s full-price sales advanced 1.3% in the 12 weeks to October 29, driven once again by growth at its healthy Directory business.
The fashion stalwart’s retail sales sunk 7.7%, while Directory sales jumped 13.2%.
In the year to date, full-price sales are down 0.3%, which the retailer said is in line with its central guidance for the year.
Including markdown, its total sales edged up 0.8% during the period, and are down 1.2% for the year to date.
The retailer noted that trading has remained “extremely volatile” and dependent on the weather.
This is evidenced in its poor year-on-year sales performance throughout October, during which the weather was warmer this year than last.
It said: “In August and September sales were significantly up on last year, as cooler temperatures improved sales of warmer weight stock. The change in sales trend came at precisely the same time UK temperatures became warmer than last year.”
At its interim results earlier this year, pre-tax profits fell 9.5% and total sales, including markdown, dropped 2.3%.
At the time, the retailer “modestly upgraded” its sales and profit guidance for the full year and chief executive Lord Wolfson claimed that its future prospects were “less challenging” than they had been six months previously.
Next has maintained the central profit guidance it issued at that time, but has narrowed the range. It now expects full-year pre-tax profits to fall between £692m and £742m.
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Looking ahead to its fourth quarter, the retailer expects full-price sales to be down 0.3%.
It said: “This may seem pessimistic compared with our performance in the third quarter, particularly as we believe that our product ranges have continued to improve.
“However, as we highlighted in September, the third quarter last year was very weak, whereas the Christmas trading period was only down -0.4%. So the comparative numbers are much more demanding in the last quarter.”