Next sales slow down, shares fall

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Shares in Next fell on Wednesday as growth in sales slowed down over the third quarter.

Whilst retail sales in the retailer fell 8%, the group posted a 12.7% rise in online sales – sending total sales up 3.7%.

Despite the slow down in growth, Next remained positive and said the results were “in line with our expectations”.

The group still expects full-year results to grow 3% and is forecast to report an annual pre-tax profit of £727 million. This is a 0.1% growth in profits made in 2017.

“Another trading statement from a high street retailer, another clear example of clicks hammering bricks. Like much of the sector, Next is doing the splits as digital and physical sales head in opposite directions,” said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“As Next rightly points out, clicks and bricks can be complementary, as physical outlets give customers a convenient place to collect and return items. The scale of Next’s finance division business is significant, with £1.1 billion of outstanding consumer debt, which is expected to contribute 17% of Next’s profits this year.”

Next is not the only retail store to be struggling this past year. Maplins and Toys R Us fell into administration this past year, whilst chains including  Marks and Spencers (LON:MKS) and Carpetright (LON: CPR) have had to carry out store closures and cut costs. 

“Next continues to be a beacon of light in a bleak retail sector. But third-quarter full-price sales growth of two per cent, bang in line with expectations, was only possible thanks to ongoing strong growth in the retailer’s online and catalogue business and growth in credit income,” said Tom Stevenson, an investment director of Fidelity Personal Investing’s share dealing service.

“Sales on the high street are declining as fast as everyone else’s as consumers sit on their hands and digital disruption continues to devastate the sector.”

Shares in Next (LON: NXT) are currently trading -2.64% (1301GMT).