Next Christmas shop sales disappoint but online thrives

Next has reported a 3.1 per cent rise in total sales between August and Christmas Eve as online sales offset "disappointing" sales at its High Street stores.

The company, which did not discount any goods in the run up to Christmas, expects full-year pretax profits to be £7m either side of £565m - up four per cent on last year.

The retailer said in a trading update: "Despite a good final week before Christmas, November and December sales were disappointing given that snow adversely impacted sales in 2010.

"A number of factors have subdued sales in the final quarter and it is hard to judge to what extent warm winter weather and higher levels of competitor discounting masked the deeper, longer lasting, economic effects."

Sales at is 500 stores in the UK and Ireland fell 2.7pc between 1 August and 24 December.

But sales at Next Directory, its home shopping service, jumped 16.9 per cent.