High street stalwart Next has played down talk of an imminent consumer recovery, saying it does not expect any significant upturn for more than a year.
The cautious outlook came yesterday as the fashion and homeware chain fought back from a sales slump during the big freeze earlier this year.
A trading update revealed that takings in stores were down 0.9 per cent for the half-year to 31 July, but this included a period at the start of the year when they had fallen by 1.9 per cent.
Next’s performance was boosted by stay-at-home online and catalogue shopping, up 8.3 per cent, giving the group an overall 2.3 per cent sales increase, in line with expectations.
Chief executive Lord Wolfson said: “For any sort of consumer recovery to happen we need to see wages growing faster than inflation, which means inflation needs to come down or we need more [economic] growth.”
Despite that, Next raised its guidance for full-year, pre-tax profit to £635-675 million from £615-665m previously.