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Hit or miss: Next - 35/50

Next - 30 Lower Level Mall, Union Square Shopping Centre

Product 9/10

Next draws out some surprises in terms of product design compared with last season and has a stronger range of trends. Sequined neon T-shirts stand out, as do relaxed cuffed trousers in grey camouflage. The paint-splatter effect seen in Zara is also present here on tops and dresses, but in muted colours better suited to the Next shopper. Sports luxe is the biggest trend, with oversized cricket jumpers with navy and yellow trims and slouchy jersey trousers that would not look out of place in Topshop, but which work for an older customer.

Merchandising 6/10

At the front of the store some rails do not have many sizes and longer-length trousers are inconsistent, although this improves further into the store. Browsing is made easier by tags and hangers that display sizes on uncrowded rails. The usual division of formal and casual makes the store simple to navigate.

Value 9/10

Pricing across key pieces is generally within the £20 to £40 range, and fabric quality seems to have improved on last season. A linen-mix polo shirt is £24, while a polyester camisole with all-over beading is £42. Both look more expensive. For quality, Next is one of the better stores within its price range.

Service 6/10

Staff out on the shop floor were keen to ask if I needed assistance, although there was nobody at the changing rooms, which are fairly basic. Staff were helpful in checking nearby stores for different sizes, but only when prompted.

Visual Merchandising 5/10

The window display is covered in a sheet, and inside mannequins wore clothing that was no longer on the shop floor - however, a shop assistant said they were due to be changed that day. Table displays are neat but there is nothing attention-grabbing.


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