Next has had a 20 percent increase in sales over the holidays.

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Next has had a 20 percent increase in sales over the holidays.

NEXT’S holiday sales were so strong that the company raised its profit forecast for the fifth time in ten months and announced a one-time dividend payment to shareholders.

Full-price sales for the eight weeks leading up to Christmas Day were up 20% on pre-pandemic levels, £70 million more than expected, according to the high-street watchdog.

As a result, it expects pre-tax profits of £822 million for the year ending in January, £22 million higher than expected and 9.8% higher than pre-Covid levels.

It will also pay a special dividend of 160p per share, or £212.7 million, to shareholders at the end of the month.

While Next anticipates a 7% increase in sales this year, it has warned that rising living costs, tax increases, and people spending their savings on overseas vacations and social activities could stifle its expansion.

“Forecasting sales for the coming year is unusually difficult, and the recent uptick makes it even more difficult,” the report stated.

In other news, discount retailer Bandamp;M European Value Retail raised its full-year profit forecast to between £605 million and £625 million, citing strong sales in the 13 weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

The company’s third-quarter revenues were 0.1 percent higher than the previous year, when lockdowns helped boost sales.

Despite the difficult conditions on the high street, Next and Bandamp;M have maintained strong sales.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Omicron scared people away from shopping, resulting in a 18.6% drop in footfall last month compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The number of visitors to physical retail locations fell by more than a third in 2021 as a whole.

The Covid variant “wiped out” most of the progress retailers had made in the four months after restrictions were lifted, according to Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive.

“Now that Christmas is over, only time will tell if shoppers return to their local high streets to take advantage of January sales and the arrival of spring collections,” she added.

Even so, retailers may have to work twice as hard this January to entice many consumers back into the cold.”

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