In a new trading statement, Next reports that full-price sales in the 13 weeks ended 1st May were down -1.5% on two years ago.

The retailer's previous central guidance assumed that Q1 would be down -10%, and this Q1 forecast has been beaten by £75m. Consequently, Next has increased its central guidance for full year profit before tax by £20m to £720m. Next's sales guidance for the rest of the year remains at +3% against two years ago.

During the quarter, retail sales in the UK and Ireland were down -76%, while online sales were up +65% (both Yo2Y). Almost all of Next's stores were closed for the first 10 weeks of the quarter, resulting in strong sales growth experienced in the last three weeks due to pent-up demand built up over the last three months – yet Next says this is "very unlikely to be indicative of demand for the rest of the year". 

Online homeware sales helped make up for those lost in-store. Overall, Next-branded home products were up +12% Yo2Y (+£17m),