Next boosted by online shopping as high street sales slump

High street clothing giant Next has said strong online growth has compensated for a faster decline in sales through its shops.

Next said revenues in its 520 stores fell by 3.3% in the three months to October 29, compared with a 1.8% fall in the previous six months.
The latest figures also included a 3.4% boost from new store openings.
The group performance was lifted by its catalogue and online business Next Directory, which saw sales growth of 16.9% in the quarter, from 15.1% in the first half.
The group, which said earlier in the year it had been hit by a perfect storm of rising commodity prices and higher VAT, added it is confident there will be no further increase in selling prices in the first half of next year.
Next said profits are forecast to be between £550 million and £585 million, compared with £551 million last year.
Chief executive Lord Wolfson said the mood of consumers remained subdued, with people being especially cautious over splashing out on big ticket items such as electrical items, sofas and other items of furniture.
The clothing side had been less affected, he said, but the warm weather over October did have an impact and clipped sales of its autumn and winter ranges. The online business was boosted by strong growth overseas, he added.
Shares jumped by 6% after the update, which analysts said was better than most had expected.
Freddie George, an analyst as at Seymour Pierce, said the performance from the Directory was “knock out” and more than made up for the 6.7% like-for-like decline in the shops.
Next added it now expects sales for full year to rise by between 2.5% to 4% compared to the broader guidance of 2% to 4.5% it issued in September.