- Clothing retailer Next upgraded its annual profit guidance after it experienced a lower-than-expected fall in second-quarter sales.

Annual pre-tax profit, based on a new 'central' sales scenario, was now estimated at £195m.

Next said its 'upside' sales scenario would produce an annual profit at £330m and its downside scenario a profit of £15m.

Full-price sales for the three months through June fell 28% on-year, which Next said was 'much better' than it expected and an improvement on the best-case scenario given in its April trading statement.

Over the entire first half, full-price sales had fallen 33%, indicating an improvement in the second quarter.

'There is still much that remains uncertain and our central scenario cannot be accorded the same degree of confidence that our guidance would normally receive at this time of year,' Next said.

'The duration of social distancing rules, post-lockdown consumer behaviour, earnings, unemployment, and, most importantly, whether there will be a second wave lockdown, all remain unknowable.'

'Nonetheless, our experience over the last 13 weeks has given us much greater clarity on our online capabilities during lockdown and the state of consumer demand, and we are now more optimistic about the outlook for the full year than we were at the height of the pandemic.'

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