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Online sales growth helps Next absorb in-store slowdown

06 May 2016 - 10:05 by Sarah Collinson

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The first three months of 2016 presented a challenge for clothing retailers, with colder conditions meaning that the introduction of spring fashion lines did little to stimulate consumer spending. And Next is the latest organisation to confirm that its sales fell slightly over this period, dropping by 0.2 per cent compared with the same period in 2015.

However, with a 4.2 per cent increase in sales made via safe shopping online, it managed to undo a much steeper 4.7 per cent dip in the number of items purchased at its bricks and mortar stores, according to Internet Retailing.

In a statement, the firm said that its performance so far this year was still within the spectrum of its predictions about performance over the course of the year as a whole.

Last year the Easter period enjoyed a bout of sunny weather, which helped to encourage more people to get out and spend cash in the high street. But the seasonal impact on clothing sales has been less favourable in 2016 and Next believes that it is still possible for a further decrease in sales at its stores.

The firm also said that aside from the impact of inclement conditions, the sluggish sales could also be an indication of the weakening of the clothing market as a whole, as well as a growing reluctance among consumers to spend significant sums at this point in time.

In the age of safe shopping online, Next and other established brands are also having to face up to the fact that there is a lot more competition out there today. And so counting on customers to remain loyal is not an option, since finding lower priced products elsewhere is easier, thanks to the accessibility of e-commerce sites.