High street clothing retailer Next has bucked trends to post better than expected sales for the last quarter.
Like-for-like sales for the 14-week period ending May 2nd were down 2.3 per cent, "better than we had anticipated" in Next's words, with the firm expecting a fall of between six and nine per cent.
But the group warned the sales were "flattered" by a late Easter, much warmer weather than this time last year and fewer people travelling overseas.
"Generally, we are happy with the positioning and composition of our ranges. Stock levels are in line with our expectations and below last year's levels," a statement added.
"As a result of the better than expected sales to date we have added £15 million to our internal profit forecasts. However, these improvements could yet be offset by the effects of pandemic flu, although at this stage it is hard to predict the impact on consumer behaviour."