Next sales fell 34% over the first half of the year, however, the fashion retailer has said business was “more resilient than we expected”.

For the first six months of the year, pre-tax profit was £9m and the group has raised profit forecast for the full year from £195m to £300m.

“The company’s sales performance through the pandemic has been more resilient than we expected. The scale of our online business, the breadth of our product offer, and the fact that much of our store portfolio is located out of town, have served to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic on trade,” said Simon Wolfson, Next’s chief executive.

Next has also confirmed a partnership with lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “The impact of the pandemic decimated demand for new outfits but these figures show resilience during these horrendous conditions.”

“This is about weathering the storm more effectively than the competition and Next is well positioned following years of investment in their digital proposition while many others remain in survival mode,” he added.

The group also warned that the tighter social distancing rules could affect sales over the Christmas period.

if the rule of six is still in play, it “is likely to depress demand for gifts and clothing associated with traditional Christmas family get togethers,” said the group.