UK retail market is improving, Next says

RetailME Bureau

England-based Next Plc said the outlook for UK retail is improving after the clothing retailer reported Christmas-season sales that beat analysts’ estimates.

Next-brand sales advanced 2.9% in the October 28 to December 24 period. Analysts had expected a 1.1% gain, according to the median estimate. Revenue at its stores gained 0.5% during the eight-week Christmas period, while sales at its home-shopping business, called Directory, rose 7.5%.

The economic outlook for the UK consumer looks relatively benign, and low inflation and stabilising wages paint a somewhat more positive picture than recent years, says Next.

European clothing retailers have struggled this year as unseasonably warm weather held shoppers back from adding to their wardrobes. Next, with more than 500 stores in the UK and Ireland and nearly 200 stores elsewhere, said it has been clearing inventory after starting the end-of-season sale with significantly more stock than last year.