Next has reported rising sales despite falling store figures thanks to its online business.
Full-price sales rose 4.5% in the 13 weeks to April 27. They were curtailed by falling retail sales, which dropped 3.6%, and driven by its online business, which grew 11.8%.
Next boss Lord Wolfson has previously spoken of the shift in sales from in-store to online and Next is reorganising its business to cope with such structural changes. Wolfson previously told Retail Week that retailers had “to wake up to the new reality that the days of high streets being filled with clothes stores are over and the days of sky-high rents are over”.
The business was characteristically cautious and said that it did not believe that the overperformance would last and held its profit and sales guidance for the year, which are pegged at £715m in pre-tax profits – a drop of 1.1% compared to the previous year – and a rise of 1.7% in total full-price sales.
Instead, it attributed the results to the unusually warm weather over the Easter bank holiday weekend, which it said was particularly helpful in-store.
It said that it believed the overperformance would result in a slight drop of 0.5% for the second quarter and that third- and fourth-quarter sales growth would come in at 1.7%.