Chloe Shakesby

Next's online sales rise to the occasion to match last year's Christmas figures

A UK fashion retailer has reported that its Christmas sales matched last year’s figures despite temporary store closures.

Next, which has 550 UK stores, reported this morning that product sales for the 9 weeks to 26 December were down by 0.5 per cent from the same period last year.

Over the period, in-store purchases decreased by 43 per cent, but the company said that this was largely compensated for by online sales, which rose by 38 per cent.

In today’s report, Next plc commented: “Full price sales in the nine weeks to 26 December were down minus 1.1 per cent on last year and much better than our central guidance of minus 8 per cent.

“After accounting for the benefit of better sales in November and December and anticipated losses from store closures in January, full year profit before tax is forecast to be £370m before two additional non-recurring items.

“A non-recurring profit of £12m from a 53rd week, along with an additional property provision of minus £40m, mean that total full year profit before tax is forecast to be £342m.

“Year end net debt is forecast to reduce by £487m to £625m.

“For the year ahead (2021/22) our central guidance, which assumes our retail stores will be closed in February and March, is for profit before tax of £670m, based on full price sales being flat versus two years ago.”

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