Fashion retailer Next Plc confirmed today (5 January) that its full-year profits remain on target, despite losing an estimated GBP22m (US$34m) in sales due to the heavy snow in the run-up to Christmas.

It now expects full-year pre-tax profit in the range of GBP540m to GBP555m, an increase of between 7% and 10% on last year. Earnings per share will be 15% to 18% ahead of last year, the firm said.

Overall, retail sales for the five months to Christmas Eve were down 3.1% on last year, while like for like sales fell 6.1%. As well as the extreme weather conditions, store sales were hurt by increased discounting by its high street competitors before Christmas, and limited stocks of best-selling lines.

That said, its Directory online and mail-order sales were up 8.7% as shoppers ordered from home rather than braving the cold - although the fear of failed deliveries reduced demand immediately prior to Christmas.

Next also repeated an earlier warning that its prices will be around 8% higher this year as a result of increasing input costs like cotton and the rise in VAT. 

But it added the impact of Government cuts on consumer spending is still unclear, as is the impact of rising retail selling prices on overall demand.