'Severe weather' hits Next and HMV Christmas sales

HMV to close 60 stores as sales dip; Next loses £22m of full price sales due to the snow.
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Challenging trading conditions and severe weather have been blamed by both Next and HMV for slower than expected Christmas sales.

Entertainment chain HMV announced this morning that its Christmas sales were down ten per cent, warning that profits would be at the lower end of forecasts. Like for like sales for the five weeks to January 1st were down 10.2 per cent on last year, due to a 13.6 per cent slump at its HMV music stores in the UK and Ireland.

The chain is now looking to offload 60 stores over the next 12 months. Other cost cutting measures will also see it save a further £10m per year.

Meanwhile, Next said that it was still on course to meet market expectations, but retail sales for August 1st to December 24th 2010 were down 3.1 per cent - affected by the snow and increased competitor discounting in the run up to Christmas.

The chain estimates that it lost £22 million of full price sales as a result of the snow (representing 2.2 per cent of the season's total sales), leaving like for like sales down 6.1 per cent. Retail sales were also somewhat affected by limited stock availability on best selling lines.

Next said that the outlook for 2011 remains uncertain, but reconfirmed that its own prices would be increasing by circa eight per cent as a result of higher input costs and the rise in VAT.

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