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News - 6 January 2007

Next struggles on the high street but scoops up on the Internet

Sales at Next shops have been disappointing for the six-month period running up to Christmas. However, online and catalogue sales during the same period have exceeded expectations.

This result is not atypical and throws the future of retailing into sharp focus. The high street is not always going to be the centre of the shopping universe. Future growth for retailers will depend on them having a strong web presence.

Next saw high street sales fall by 6.9% while its Direct business grew by 9.3%. Brighton has been unusual in seeing a rise in footfall this year compared with last but the national average is down by as much as 15% in some places and many high street stores are feeling the pinch.

Brighton-based e-commerce company, Dreamteam has conducted a survey of retailers with an online presence and has recorded a growth in online sales by value and by volume of 23% and 26% respectively. This emphasises the need for all retailers to consider the opportunities offered by ecommerce.

However, online sales alone are not enough for many retail businesses and there is still a need to work on the high street offer. It is also important to maintain a vibrant city centre and that depends on a successful mix of multiple and independent retailing.

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