High stock levels will have an impact on profits though
Next's Christmas trading figures support signs that the womenswear market remained relatively buoyant over the festive period. The retailer said sales from August 3 to Christmas Eve were up 12.1 per cent compared with the same period last year. Like-for-like sales for the 285 stores unaffected by store openings were up 2.9 per cent.

Sales at the retailer's catalogue business, Next Directory, rose 13.4 per cent. However, clearance rates in the retailer's end of season Sale were below expectations and stock levels were higher than planned. As a result, Next has lowered its profit forecast by£5 million. Next said that its pre-tax profit for the full year is between£415 million and£425 million.