High street sales figures fall over Christmas period

High street retailers are reporting bleak sales figures for the Christmas period as the traditionally busy sales period failed to encourage consumers to start spending.

Next, the clothing retailer, saw a 3.2% drop in sales, not including new store openings, between July 30 and December 24. Sales for Next Directory were up by 2.2%.

The retailer says that it had not discounted prices in the run up to Christmas and that sales clearance is “in line with expectations” but it was cautious about the coming year as consumers continue to “face increasing demands on their finances”.

Meanwhile, DSG International, the owner of Currys and PC World, has warned that its full-year profits will be £40m to £50m lower than expected after poor trading over Christmas. It is understood that sales have been particularly bad in the UK.

Analysts had expected the group, Europe’s largest electrical retailer, to report profits of between £300m and £320m for the year to mid-April. It had already sounded a warning note in October at its half-year results when it reported a 25.4% dip in underlying pre-tax profits.

DSG says that like-for-like sales, which do not include sales from new stores, slipped by 1% for the 11 weeks to December 29. It has also reported the sales of electrical goods fell by 1% while computer products sales saw an 11% decline.

But the figures contrast sharply with results for online entertainment retailer Play.com, which saw sales increase by 24% in the fourth quarter of 2007. Sales over December grew by 29%.

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