Next sales edge lower as online performance weakens

UK fashion retailer Next kept its annual profit guidance despite reporting a smaller decline in first-quarter sales than it expected.

Full price sales slipped 0.7% in the 13 weeks to April 29, outperforming  its guidance for a 2% fall.

The drop was primarily driven by online sales which dipped 1.6% while bricks-and-mortar sales were down 0.6%. Overall, sales were up 1.2% on last year driven by “higher clearance sales”.

“Although our first quarter performance moderately exceeded our sales guidance, we believe it is too early in the year to alter our overall sales expectations for either the half or full year,” Next said.

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The retailer remained cautious in its forecasts, expecting a 1.5% decline in 2023-2024 full-price sales and pretax profit of £795 million, down from the £870.4 million for the same period in 2022-2023.

To maintain its first half guidance, Next has moderated its sales forecast for the second quarter, which is now estimated to be down 5% on last year rather than 4%.

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