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Next cautious amid 'extremely volatile' trading

Retailer Next has warned that trading remains "extremely volatile"

RETAIL giant Next has warned that trading remains "extremely volatile" as directory sales continue to offset tough conditions on the high street.

The group posted its second quarter in a row of rising total full-price sales - up 1.3 per cent in its third quarter to October 29 - but saw a 7.7 per cent plunge across its high street shops and said trading was "highly dependent" on the weather.

A 13.2 per cent jump in sales across its Directory arm helped push overall sales higher.

While cooler temperatures in August and September helped overall sales surge at the start of its third quarter, the recent warmer autumn weather saw trading come under pressure once more.

It is also expecting total sales to slip back into reverse in its fourth quarter as it comes up against a stronger quarter over last Christmas.

A 0.3 per cent fall in sales for the year so far is a more "reliable guide" to the underlying trend for the year, according to the group.

Next said its sales performance has remained "extremely volatile and is highly dependent on the seasonality of the weather".

It added: "In August and September, sales were significantly up on last year, as cooler temperatures improved sales of warmer weight stock.

"The change in sales trend came at precisely the same time UK temperatures became warmer than last year."

Next kept its central profit outlook for the year, but narrowed the range to between £692 million and £742 million, from its previous guidance range of between £687 million and £747 million.

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