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E-commerce aids Next after poor high street sales

05 January 2012 - 15:03 by Simon Crisp

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Next is just one of the many high street chains in the UK that is relying on safe shopping online to bolster its business, after British consumers were less than liberal with their cash at bricks and mortar outlets during Christmas 2011.

Next was one of the few major outlets which refused to give into the growing trend of making major discounts prior to December 25th, as sales begin to creep earlier and earlier. However, chief exec, Lord Wolfson, told the Telegraph that the Boxing Day sales were necessarily ruthless in order to maintain Next's competitive stance.

The significance of Next's announcement is that it is the first of the retail brands to state whether Christmas has been a success or a failure and despite some optimistic predictions, it seems that it has been a bit of a mixed bag.

November and December were generally slower than desired, although the final seven days before Christmas saw Next record stronger sales via safe shopping online and the high street.

In a performance report, Next was not keen to attribute the slowdown to any one particular factor, instead identifying a number of reasons why Brits might be reluctant to part with their cash. Big discounts from its rivals combined with mild weather conditions to reduce its clothing sales, but Next also believes that the general fiscal uncertainty amongst the general public is causing issues for retailers which will be present for the long term.

Despite all of this doom and gloom, it looks like 2011 was still a profitable year for Next, which saw a four per cent rise in sales and will make £7 million in profit before tax. This is around six per cent lower than some market analysts had predicted, but it is better than being in the red.