Next overall sales were up 2.2% in the 14 weeks to May 4 driven by new store openings.

The performance compares with guidance given in March of between 1% and 4%.

However, Next remained cautious on the outlook. “The overall number of +2.2% is the best guide for future performance and we remain cautious about the consumer environment,” said Next.

“We anticipate that the continuing decline in real earnings will depress discretionary spending for at least the next eighteen months, if not longer.” 

Next retail sales fell 1.9% while Directory sales were up 8.9%.

Next reported that trading had been “volatile and particularly poor through March and early April. The marked upturn in sales in mid-April corresponds to the break in the very cold weather”.

The fashion and home retailer said the uptick in sales was driven by “pent up demand” from March.

“We believe that neither period is indicative of any significant change in the underlying economy,” said Next.