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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 08:26 GMT
Next slows its decline in sales
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Next is cautious about the prospects for consumer spending
Clothing retailer Next has slowed the rate at which sales at its stores are declining, but says trading conditions remain "extremely volatile".

Next said same-store sales, which strip out the impact of new outlets, fell 2.9% in the 14 weeks to 3 November.

This was an improvement on the 4.8% decline it experienced in the six weeks to 8 September, the start of the second half of its financial year.

It added that Next Directory sales had risen 1.2% in the past 14 weeks.

This was a return to growth after the catalogue and internet division saw a 2.9% decline in the six weeks to 8 September.

Cautious outlook

The combined sales of Next Retail and Next Directory for the 14 week period were up 0.4% compared with the same period last year, against a 2.9% fall in the six weeks to 8 September.

Next - which has more than 460 shops - said it now expects full-year earnings to be in-line with market expectations.

"However, trading patterns remain extremely volatile with good sales in September giving way to a disappointing October," it said.

"We remain cautious about the consumer environment, with many customers now experiencing considerable year-on-year increases in their mortgage repayments."

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