Retailer Next sees sales plunge by 40pc – and forecasts bleaker times ahead

PUBLISHED: 10:34 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:34 29 April 2020

Next sees sales tumble. Pic: Archat library/RG Carter

Next sees sales tumble. Pic: Archat library/RG Carter

Fashion and homeware store Next, with six outlets in Norfolk, said the impact of lockdown was “faster and steeper” than expected.

Next sees sales tumble Pic: ArchantNext sees sales tumble Pic: Archant

The retailer warned sales would remain under pressure throughout 2020. It comes as the chain, which re-opened for online trading on April 14, reported a 41pc plunge in full-price sales over its first quarter to April 25, with high street sales down 52pc and online sales down by 32pc.

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It said it forecasts sales to tumble by as much as 62%pc over its second quarter and could still be 28pc lower by next January in the worst-case scenario.

Next said it has plans in place to re-open stores when lockdown is lifted, but would be prioritising out-of-town outlets initially, where it is easier to operate in a “socially distanced world”.

But it does not believe there will be a sudden rush of shoppers hitting stores predicting sales will remain “very subdued” once restrictions are lifted.

Next closed its online operations in late March amid the coronavirus crisis, following criticism from staff who felt unsafe at work.

It re-opened for internet shopping in mid-April, but the website closed by 9am on the first day, saying it had already received all the orders it could process for the day.

Next began by selling only childrenswear and some home items initially, but said in its latest update that it now has 70pc of its range on offer.

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