Next is to test-market a wedding-list service later this year, putting it in competition with other high street retailers such as Debenhams for a share of the &£250m a year market.
It is expected that Next will set aside an area in its stores for the service, giving space to customers to sit and select items with an assistant.
According to Mintel figures, the wedding-list market increased by nearly 43 per cent in volume terms between 1998 and 2002, and by 57.1 per cent in value – from &£161m to &£253m – in the same period.
Key players in the market include Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Debenhams. The latter gives hi-tech scanners to the engaged couple, allowing them to swipe the price-tags of their chosen items. The list is then held for guests to buy in one of three ways: through touch-screens in store; via the internet; or through a call centre. Couples also receive information on personalised wedding stationery, outfits, insurance, music, gifts for attendants and special offers.
Argos also provides a wedding-list service, which it launched in the Nineties.Next already offers an in-store furniture and homeware ordering service.