Thursday preview: UK retail in focus with ONS data and Next finals

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Thursday preview: UK retail in focus with ONS data and Next finals

Wed, 22 March 2017
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Thursday preview: UK retail in focus with ONS data and Next finals

(ShareCast News) - Retail is the focus for Thursday with official UK retail sales data and high street giant Next due to report is full year results.
Next will publish its numbers at 0700 GMT amid a sectorwide battle against a cyclical downturn in clothing sales and an ongoing shift in consumer shopping habits.

In January Next published fourth-quarter results that showed an improvement on the third and on the previous year and said profit before tax should come in at around £792m, with earnings per share to fall 0.6%.

Next also took a cautious view of the outlook for the 2018 financial year, guiding to a PBT range of £680-780m, down between 2% and 14%.

"Key issues will be whether Next has identified specific areas of weakness (eg mobile) and how quickly these can be remedied," said UBS.

"We would expect a progress report to cover mobile, personalisation, short game product, credit and fulfilment. We would not, however, expect radical changes to the strategy on delivery charges, credit, and pricing."

At 0930 GMT the Office for National Statistics will unveil retail sales numbers for February, following a weak reading in January as volume fell for the third consecutive month, taking three-month growth negative for the first time since December 2013.

The strong growth a year ago made the year-on-year rate seem even more weak.

"After such a weak three months, we do expect something of a bounce in February, and the base effects should lift the y-o-y rate," said HSBC in its preview.

"Nonetheless, the broader outlook for retail sales is poor, given the rapid decline in real income growth."

The consensus is for a monthly increase of 0.4% after January's 0.3% fall, while the yearly number is seen rising 2.6%.

Excluding automobiles, a monthly increase of 0.5% is forecast and 3.3% for the year-on-year.