Online sales boost Christmas trading for Next

Next has revealed an unexpected rise in sales over the festive period.

The sale of full-price products in the 54 days leading up to December 24 were up 1.5% compared to the same period last year. The retailer announced back in November that it expected a fall of 0.3% over Christmas 2017.

The surprise increase was driven by online sales which increased 13.6% over the period (up from 10.4% in 2016), compared to a 6.1% decrease in store sales (up from -7.2%).

The retailer said cold weather leading up to Christmas was probably the cause of the improved figures.

Subsequently, Next increased its profit guidance by £8 million to £725 million.

"Many of the challenges we faced last year look set to continue into the year ahead," said Next.

"Subdued consumer demand driven by a decline in real income, the increase in experiential spending at the expense of clothing, and inflation in our cost prices remain challenges for 2018. However, we believe that some of these headwinds will ease as we move through the year; we already know that cost price inflation will reduce to 2% in the first half and believe it will disappear in the second half."