Sales at Next have unexpectedly risen over the Christmas period, prompting the fashion retailer to raise its profit forecast.Cold weather boosted trade ahead of Christmas, sending full-price sales up 1.5% – far better than the 0.3% fall it had expected.A 13.6% rise in online sales offset a 6.1% decline in store sales in the 54 days to 24 December.As a result Next said annual profits were expected to rise by £8m to £725m.That remained considerably lower than the £790.2 million for the year to January 2017.The retailer warned that many of the challenges it faced last year, such as subdued consumer demand and lower spending on clothing, would persist in 2018.”However, we believe that some of these headwinds will ease as we move through the year. We already know that cost price inflation will reduce to 2% in the first half and believe it will disappear in the second half,” Next said. Richard Lim of Retail Economics said the figures highlight the shift towards online spending from the high street. “The cooler weather is likely to have played a helping hand, but these results set the tone for a tough Christmas,” he said.The fashion clothing market was becoming more competitive because of nimble online players, a prolonged period of sales kicked off by Black Friday and an increase in operating costs, Mr Lim added.
Source: BBC News