Next has raised its full-year profit forecast after a better-than-expected Christmas performance, fuelling hopes the wider sector in the UK may have enjoyed solid festive trading.
The first major stock market-listed UK retailer to update on Christmas trading also forecast sales and profit growth for its 2020-21 financial year, which begins in late January.
Chief executive Simon Wolfson said the fundamentals of the UK economy remain sound. He cautioned the shift to spending on leisure and entertainment at the expense of items such as clothing is set to continue.
Next said full-price sales rose 5.2% across November and December compared to internal forecasts of 4.1% and third-quarter growth of 2%. The group trades from about 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, 200 stores in other countries, as well as its online and catalogue business.
Next raised its full-price sales growth guidance for the year to 3.9% and profit guidance to £727m (€857m), 0.6% up from that recorded in the year to January 2019.