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Next like-for-likes down 4.4%

Next saw like-for-like sales fall 4.4% over the 14 weeks to November 1.

Next’s total sales rose 0.9% over the period. Next stores generated a 0.3% sales rise against last year while Next Directory sales rose 2.1% over the period.

Next said that tighter control of spring and summer stock had resulted in fewer markdown sales in August and that as a result, full price sales performance was marginally better than total sales growth.

Next said its outlook for the rest of the year and 2009 remained unchanged and that it was budgeting for like-for-like sales to be down within the range of -4% and -7%. Next Directory sales are expected to be within the 0% to 2% range.

Next added in a statement: “The outlook for consumers demand in 2009 is mixed. On the up-side, lower interest rates and falling fuel and food bills are likely to increase the amount of availability for discretionary spending at some point during the year. On the down-side, rising unemployment will reduce earnings and falling house prices may encourage people to save more. On balance we therefore expect negative like-for-likes to continue throughout next year, though not necessarily at any worse rate than the current year.”

Next warned: “We expect upward pressure on input prices throughout 2009. In spring summer 2009 the effects will be marginal. We anticipate much greater pressure in autumn winter 2009 as a result of recent dollar strength against the pound.”

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