Next cuts sales and profit forecast

Next store Image copyright PA

Retailer Next has warned that sales and profits could be lower than previously forecast due to a potential slowdown in consumer spending.

Its new forecasts came as it said total sales in the three months to 2 May were down 0.2% from a year earlier, while full price sales were 0.9% lower.

Next blamed colder weather in March and April which hit demand for clothing.

The retailer said it now expected full-price sales for 2016 to range between a 3.5% fall and a 3.5% rise.

That was wider than its previous range of between a 1% fall and a 4% rise.

"We believe it is unlikely (but possible) that sales will deteriorate further, and we have seen a significant improvement over the last few days as temperatures have risen," the company said.

"However, the poor performance of the last six weeks may be indicative of weaker underlying demand for clothing and a potentially wider slowdown in consumer spending."

It is the third time Next has downgraded its annual sales guidance in five months.

Next also widened and lowered the range of its full-year profit forecast to between £748m and £852m, compared with the previous forecast issued in March of between £784m and £858m.

In March, Next warned 2016 would be a "challenging year" for its business, saying the year ahead "may well be the toughest we have faced since 2008".

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