Next blames warm weather for 'disappointing' sales

The retailer blamed the mild weather for poor sales performance in its stores. Credit: PA Wire

High street chain Next has blamed unseasonably warm weather for "disappointing" sales figures in the run-up to Christmas.

The retailer said that full-price sales fell by 0.5% in its stores in the 60 days up until 24 December.

Sales at its Next Directory and online catalogue arm rose by 2%, although the company said there had been a slowdown in its Directory business due to poor stock availability.

The company also said that tougher online competition contributed to its trading problems.

Specifically, we believe that Next Directory's disappointing sales were compounded by poor stock availability from October onwards.

In addition, the online competitive environment is getting tougher as industry-wide service propositions catch up with the Next Directory.

– Next spokesperson

Next expects its full-year profits to come in towards the lower end of its £817 million forecast, although this would still be a 4.4% increase on the previous year.

The firm is the first of the major retailers to release its Christmas trading figures.