Sales ahead of expectations at Next despite slight decline

Fashion and homewares retailer Next has reported a decline in first quarter sales but ahead of its previously stated expectations.

According to its Q1 trading update for the 13 weeks to 29 April 2023, full price sales were down -0.7% versus last year, moderately ahead of its guidance for this period, which was to be down -2%.

Next said: “We are maintaining our sales and profit guidance for the full year, with profit before tax forecast to be £795m and Earnings Per Share (EPS) of 501.9p.

“Total Trading sales, including markdown and Clearance sales, were up +1.2% versus last year, this was driven by higher Clearance sales. Last year we had very little Clearance stock available, as a result of stock shortages in the run up to Christmas 2021. This year, Clearance stock levels have returned to normal and are commensurate with pre-COVID levels.

“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. To maintain our first half forecast, we have moderated our sales forecast for the second quarter, which is now planned to be -5% down on last year (previous guidance was -4%). This adjustment seems reasonable, as some of the first quarter’s success, particularly in holiday clothing sales leading up to Easter, might have been pulled forward from the second quarter.”

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