The igh Street Next chain has defied a retail downturn as its profits have been boosted by the return of mainstream wear and the collapse of rivals on the street.

The company increased its profit guidance for the year to £860 million, up 4.5% in 2021 and £10 million on previous forecasts, while full-cost sales rose 5%. The next stock rose 2.6% in open trading.

The retailer says it has seen a spike in interest in formal suits and dresses as Britons refresh their wardrobes for their first wedding and business event since lockdown. coronavirus is applied.

Next boss Simon Wolfson told Standard: “There’s a trend towards higher quality products that last longer and get rid of a lot of things that you throw out of your closet very quickly.”

“People are buying fewer but more expensive items – they’re budgeting for an event or a vacation.”

The strong gains came despite ONS data showing that money spent on clothing in retail stores is down 6% from pre-pandemic levels. The Next CEO said the loss of some high-street competitors, as well as the seasonally warm weather, was a driver for sales, though he cautioned that the future outlook of high street in the UK is uncertain.

“You might think this is when people usually go back to the freeways, but actually there are fewer people on the highways – we can’t draw any lasting conclusions about the highway,” he said. speed at this stage”.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen the collapse of several beloved street brands, including Topshop, Peacocks and Debenhams, with fears more companies could fall victim to tougher economic conditions in the coming months as household budgets tighten. According to figures from the British Retail Consortium, one in seven high street stores in the UK is still empty.

“We don’t expect a disaster [but] Wolfson said.

Sales from the company’s summer clearance fell unexpectedly, prompting Next to keep Britons at home during the heatwave.

Next said it expected an 8% price hike in the second half of 2022 to address continued inflationary pressures.