When fashion bellwether Next is suffering, you know things are tough on the high street.

The retail giant today reported predictably soft numbers as third-quarter full-price sales fell 3.5%. Retail sales slid 5.9%, while even Next’s mighty Directory business was flat.

August and September were particularly tough, but the retailer finished the period on a high with sales up 1.3% in October.

Next’s oracle-in-chief, Lord Wolfson, had already warned the period would be a struggle.

All this means there is a sense of relief that today’s numbers were not worse. And thanks to Next holding its full-year profits forecast, Wolfson should be smiling that its share price has seen a 3.5% bounce.

Elsewhere today, London’s West End retailers are rubbing their hands at the prospect of a £2.3bn Christmas bonanza, helped by wealthy tourists taking advantage of the tanking pound. 

Sainsbury’s is finally embracing contactless.

And, according to Debenhams’ international boss, Iran should be the next country that retailers with international aspirations should investigate. You heard it here first.

Quote of the day

“Our customers will find an expected item in the bagging areas soon” – Sainsbury’s on plans to introduce contactless at the majority of its c-stores by Christmas

Today in numbers

3.5% – the fall in Next’s third-quarter full-price sales.

£2.3bn – sales expected for London’s West End retailers in the six-week festive trading period.

Tomorrow’s agenda

Grocery giant Morrisons reports third-quarter numbers with all eyes on whether boss David Potts can sustain his impressive revival of the Bradford-based retailer.

James Wilmore, news editor