Next spooked investors with news of its summer sales slowdown, sending its shares sharply lower.
John Lewis painted a more rosy picture when it reported a 9.2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales in the six months to 28 July, although figures released on Friday showed a slowdown to 4.3 per cent in the week to 8 September.
With clothing and womenswear in particular having taken a hit in recent months, there may be some consequences for Debenhams.
The group, which reports fourth-quarter figures on Tuesday, has delivered robust sales growth in recent months as its recently- appointed chief executive, Michael Sharp, leads a turnaround at the chain.
Sales rose 3.1 per cent in the 16 weeks to 23 June, against 0.3 per cent in the previous half-year.
Sharp has been focusing on improving sales growth rather than margins – a strategy that has paid off, according to analysts
Half-year profits rose by 1.4 per cent to £127.1 million and Debenhams’ share price has leapt by 87 per cent in the past 12 months.
Analysts are expecting sales to remain positive in the final quarter, although a weaker clothing market is set to ease growth slightly.
Fraser Ramzan, an analyst at Nomura, is pencilling in a 2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales growth.
Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson noted: “By Christmas, Debenhams will have completed 32 store refurbishments, with a further 15 a year pencilled in for 2013 and 2014.”