Next predicts continuing fall in sales

NEXTNext, the fashion retailer, has reported a 4.4% decline in sales for the fourteen-week period to November 1. It is also predicting falls to continue into next year, as shoppers tighten their belts.

Sales in its 334 retail stores increased by 0.3%, and its mail order business, Next Directory also saw a 2.1% increase in sales. However, a reduction in the amount of discounting offered by the company dented profits and the total like-for-like sales were down on this time last year.

In a statement, the Next Group says: “Tighter control of spring/summer stock resulted in fewer markdown sales in August, so full price sales performance was marginally better than total sales, which were down 4.4%.

“The outlook for consumer demand in 2009 is mixed. On balance we expect negative like for likes to continue throughout next year, though not necessarily at any worse rate than the current year.”

The group adds lower interest rates and falling fuel and food bills are likely to increase consumers’ disposable income, but rising unemployment levels could reduce earnings.

The results follow yesterday’s announcement (November 4) from Marks & Spencer that its half-year profits had fallen 34%, whilst budget fashion retailer Primark, reported a 4% increase in its first half results.

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