UK News Fresh full lockdown could cost Next nearly £60m in lost sales
Feel The Burnham? What People In Manchester Think Of Row Over 'Shambolic' Lockdown
Greater Manchester has become the scene of one of the biggest political standoffs since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. On one side is the weight and force of Boris Johnson and his government. Ministers insist that, amid a huge second wave of coronavirus cases they say could overwhelm the region’s intensive beds by November 12, the area must go into a tier 3 lockdown. On the other side is a handful of local leaders – led by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham – who are refusing to agree to the new rules until the Treasury rolls out a stronger package of support for workers and businesses.
High Street stalwarthas warned that a fresh full two-week lockdown across England, Northern Ireland and Scotland would cost it nearly £60million in lost sales.
The retailer said that its in-store sales in the last three months were around half of levels seen since last year, with fears already mounting about the potential impact of Wales' two-week circuit-beaker shutdown imposed last week.
Next also said: 'We have found no evidence of the virus being transmitted in our stores, nor are we aware of any studies that suggest clothing and homeware retail presents a significant risk of infection.'
Covid-19 deaths in Britain could have been HALVED by an early lockdown
Professor Andrew Harvey, an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge, calculated the death toll could have been halved if Britain went into lockdown on March 19, rather than March 26.The UK went into full lockdown on March 23, when 36 people were dying of Covid-19 per day on average.
Last month, the boss of Next, Lord Wolfson, said there was a clear threat to thousands of jobs in retail because lockdown had triggered a seismic shift to online shopping.
But, amid the doom and gloom looming over potential further shutdowns, Next still upped its full-year profit forecast for the third time this year.
The chain now expects its pre-tax profit for the year to hit £365million, which is £65million more than first expected, with net debt forecast to fall by £487million to £625million.
Online sales during the summer were 23 per cent higher than they were a year ago with shopper demand for homeware lines and children's clothes remaining high.
Maskless Welsh revellers pile on streets for last time before shutdown
At 6pm, Wales goes into a harsh 'firebreak' lockdown until November 9, with people told not to leave home except for limited purposes such as exercise and all non-essential shops forced to shut down. However, even existing restrictions were ignored this evening as revellers, many without face coverings, embraced and sang 90s classic Don't Look Back In Anger outside a Gregg's bakery in the city centre.It comes as it emerged that Welsh supermarkets have been ordered to only sell 'essential goods' to customers during the country's 17-day lockdown.
With many still working from home and formal events off the cards, sales of suits and party clothes remain down on levels seen last year.
Next said: 'Online sales remain strong, both in the UK and overseas. In retail, out-of-town retail parks continue to perform better than high streets and shopping centres.'
Total sales in the three months to 24 October rose by 1.4 per cent, or 2.8 per cent, when interest from consumer credit is included.
The number of products sold with a markdown dropped by 12.3 per cent on a year ago, but Next explained this was due to fewer customers in stores and a focus in its warehouses on full priced goods.
Video: Last Week's First-Time Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Level Since March (Cover Video)
Sales outperformed particularly strongly in the final two weeks of August, as the Government was encouraging workers back to offices and before the 'rule of six' was introduced.
Warrington will go into Tier 3: Council leaders say deal is agreed
A deal on putting Warrington into Tier 3 has been agreed, council leaders have told Sky News. The deal, which has not yet been confirmed by the government, includes £4.2m in financial support for businesses.However, it has not yet been decided when the new coronavirus restrictions will come into effect across the northern town, but it could potentially be next Thursday.
They fell sharply in September, but regained momentum in October and beat figures from a year earlier, the retailer said.
Looking ahead to Christmas, Next's bosses said sales could fall by 8 per cent based on their 'central scenario', which includes further lockdowns, customers avoiding busy stores and increased self-isolation.
An alternative 'upside' scenario predicts a flat period of sales, compared with last Christmas, where 'busier stores prove no further deterrent to retail shopping', and there are no further lockdowns.
The 'downside' scenario would see a two-week lockdown being imposed triggering an expected 20 per cent drop in sales, Next said.
It added: 'The biggest single unknown is whether England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow Wales's decision to shut non-essential retail shops.
'A two-week lockdown in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in November would reduce retail full-price sales by around £57 million depending on timing.'
Cardiff's streets lie empty on first weekend of 'fire break' lockdown
Queen Street in Cardiff looked particularly deserted as all non-essential shops were shut down and boarded up with hardly any people were spotted outside. Pictures of the same street taken today, compared with pictures taken at the same time on Friday before the fire break measures came into play, show the stark effect the lockdown has had on the local economy. It comes as Welsh ministers today revealed they are already planning for another fire break lockdown after Christmas - as they conceded their 'trolley police' ban on shops selling non-essential goods is not working properly.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: 'Christmas has not quite come early for Next, but the signs are promising ahead of the important retail season.'
He said the retailer continued to make progress, with a major reduction in net debt and an upgraded profit forecast which was 'a further sign of recovery.'
'Given the fact that the pandemic has taken the ultimate toll on some of its competitors, for Next to be booking a profit of this size is testament to its enduring appeal,' he added.
Meanwhile, Russ Mould, investment director at AJ bell, remained upbeat about Next's prospects.
Mould said: 'What you can be pretty sure of is that Next will be prepared this time round and at least investors are getting a detailed read on how sales might perform under different scenarios.
'The strength of Next's brand, proposition, balance sheet and infrastructure should also set it up to be a retail survivor which can thrive in a recovery.'
Shares in FTSE 100-listed Next are up 2.76 per cent or 168p to 6,258p this morning.
Britons claim they will head away to rural areas for second lockdown .
Britons are plotting to head away from cities to rural areas during a second UK lockdown days after Paris saw huge traffic jams as people left city. The Mail revealed last night that Boris Johnson is expected to announce a second nationwide lockdown next week.Social media users reacted quickly to say they would flee London and other cities for the countryside before the new restrictions are put in place.It comes as the roads out of Paris were jammed on Thursday after France's second lockdown was ordered yesterday.