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Next sales rise 3.9% over Christmas

High street giant Next grew sales by 3.9% over the Christmas period, compared with the previous year.

Between November 1 and December 24 the retailer saw takings at its bricks and mortar stores rise 0.8% while its Directory business, which incorporates online, jumped 11.2%.

This performance was in line with the forecast made in Next’s last trading statement in October.

Next reduced the amount of stock put into an end of seaon Sale by 8.2% compared with last year. It is expecting final clearance rates to be in line with last year.

“Stock levels continue to be carefully controlled and we start the new year with less stock in the business than last year,” the business said in a statement.

Although sales were in line with expectations, cost control measures, markdowns and gross margins were slightly better than expected. As a result, Next has narrowed its profit guidance to within £7m either side of £618m, the top of end of its previous guidance.

Looking ahead Next said it expected the environment to remain “subdued but steady”.

“We think it is unlikely there will be any dramatic change in the consumer environment in the year ahead,” it added. “Healthy employment numbers mean that there is little risk of a significant downturn. However, the continued growth in price inflation ahead of wage inflation means that real wages will continue to fall, albeit at a slower rate than last year.”

The retailer will announce its full-year results for the year to the end of January on March 21.

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