Next update set to show snow losses

Marion Dakers
SEVERAL consumer bellwethers are due to reveal Christmas trading figures this week, with Next, Domino’s Pizza and Clinton Cards kicking off the first reporting season of the year.

Clothing retailer Next is due to reveal in a trading update on Wednesday how snow disruption and consumer spending pressures have affected sales over the 24 weeks to Christmas Eve.

The firm said in September it expected like-for-like retail sales to shed between 1.5 and 4.5 per cent in the second half of the year, pointing to a steep rise in cotton prices as a catalyst for further drops in 2011.

The firm declined to comment yesterday on its performance over the holidays. Analysts at UBS have predicted a 4.5 per cent decline in like-for-like sales, while Seymour Pierce has forecast a 3.3 per cent drop in store sales.

Next has previously released guidance predicting annual profit of between £535m and £560m.

Also on Wednesday, pizza group Domino’s is expected to announce a strong fourth quarter following a £7m advertising campaign. Analysts at Numis have forecast a pre-tax profit of £36.5m for 2010 on the back of revenues of £185m.

The pizza delivery firm has historically fared well during periods of bad weather, with jumps in sales in January 2010 and February 2009, according to analysts at Seymour Pierce.

Clinton Cards is up next on Thursday, with the high street greetings card seller hoping to improve on the three per cent drop in like-for-like sales reported in its November interim statement.

Waitrose has already revealed its Christmas sales figures were the best ever, despite the icy weather. The supermarket said December sales rose 5.4 per cent on last year, with strong demand for luxury Christmas goods.

Parent company John Lewis has said sales at its department stores jumped 26.2 per cent in the first week of its post-Christmas clearance sale.

However, market research company Synovate found that shopper numbers between 22 and 26 December were down 6.1 per cent this year.