“People do not buy an outfit to stay at home’: Next boss on 30% sales fall

PUBLISHED: 09:06 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:07 19 March 2020

Next has seen a sales slump because of coronavirus. Pic: Archant library

Next has seen a sales slump because of coronavirus. Pic: Archant library

Retail chain Next, with stores across Norfolk, is preparing for a “significant” trading downturn amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The group, which has stores in Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and three in Norwich, said stress tests showed the business could “comfortably sustain” more than £1 billion loss of sales over the full-year. This included sales declines of up to 100% in some weeks during the peak of the outbreak.

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Online sales are likely to fare better than stores due to social distancing measures, but Next CEO Lord Simon Wolfson said: “When the pandemic first appeared in China, we assumed that the threat was to our supply chain. It is now very clear that the risk to demand is by far the greatest challenge we face and we need to prepare for a significant downturn in sales for the duration of the pandemic.”

He added: “Online sales are likely to fare better than retail but will also suffer significant losses.

“People do not buy a new outfit to stay at home.”

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