Next boss touts highest consumer outlook since pandemic

Simon Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, has provided optimism for the UK’s retail market, claiming that the outlook for UK consumers is the highest it has been since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Speaking to Reuters after publishing the company’s financial report, Wolfson said that the company was not negative about consumer outlook which is “a first for us for some time.”

He did however warn: "That doesn't mean we think the consumer environment's going to be hugely ebullient, we just don't think that the consumer's facing the same headwinds they were facing at this time last year."

The company on Thursday forecast a 4.6 per cent rise in profits for its 2024-25 on full price sales of 2.5 per cent.

Wolfson added that his biggest concern is the prospect of a weakening employment market, with the potential of lowering employment numbers having a negative impact on disposable income.

He welcomed recent increases in consumer wages, but told the news wire that "from a policy perspective the country just needs to be very careful," and that "If wages rise too much ahead of inflation, then either it becomes inflationary itself or it leads to unemployment.”

Wage increases are being tracked by the Bank of England as it mulls whether the inflationary pressure in the British economy has eased enough to cut the interest rate.

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