Wednesday looks like it could be a big day for the retail sector with fashion chain Next making a trading announcement that should give a clue to how the festive shopping season went. The retailer is set to release sales figures covering the period up to and including Christmas Eve, and may also provide some anecdotal indications of how the post-Christmas sales period has been going.
Next's performance may not necessarily be a reliable indicator for how the High Street in general performed over Christmas, however; the stock was one of the top three performing FTSE 100 stocks in 2011, suggesting that it has been less prone to the tribulations suffered by many of its retail peers. Despite the share price rising by more than a third over the last year, the company has been ploughing ahead with its share buy-back programme in recent weeks, offering encouragement, in the eyes of Swiss broker UBS, that the board is not expecting the sales update to spark a sell-off in the market.
It is around a year since shares in Domino's Pizza hit their all-time high of 586p, but after a prolonged period of scintillating growth the pizza delivery firm found it harder to maintain its reputation for outperformance in 2011. Panmure Gordon thinks the mild weather and the tough comparatives will continue to make life harder for Domino's. For the fourth quarter, the broker predicts like-for-like (LFL) sales growth of 3.3%, representing a slow-down from the third quarter's 3.9% increase in LFL sales. "We expect confirmation the group opened 60 stores in the UK and four in Germany in 2011," Panmure Gordon said.
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