New York - The first week of January is crucial as main apparel retailers in the UK share their Christmas trading updates. After John Lewis enjoyed the benefits of last-minute shopping, the City expects Next to report disappointing figures, forecasting in-store sales could be down as much as 13 percent.

Analysts at Jefferies said last week that in-store sales at Next Plc. could be down 13 percent on last year, and predicting that the retailer would downgrade its profit guidance. In the three months to the end of October, Next’s shop sales were down 8 percent.

As reports ‘The Guardian’, sector analysts will now be looking towards a Christmas trading update on Thursday from the industry bellwether Next, for an indication of how difficult trading has been.

Marks & Spencer and Debenhams will be the next ones reporting how they fared over the key holiday's sales season. The latter is also expected to deliver weak figures, with some market sources cited by ‘The Guardian’ saying that the trading is thought to have been so poor the department stores operator will be forced into an emergency stock exchange statement ahead of its annual meeting next week.

In this regard, independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said in a note “Debenhams would probably like to delay their trading update until [its annual general meeting on] the 10th so that Mike Ashley [who controls a 29 percent stake] doesn’t have time to organise a shareholder revolt at the AGM, but I suspect the truth will have to out.





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