James Moore: We are right, says Next, and anon is wrong

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The Independent Online

Outlook: Next and M&S might have reported better-than-expected sales figures yesterday but, of course, the focus on planet retail is not so much on the numbers themselves but on how they are put together.

For the uninitiated, Next offers comparatives on same store sales excluding new openings and the internet. The same figure supplied by its great rival M&S, however, makes no apology for including online sales.

The crux of the debate is that the latter could be argued to make the M&S sales figures look a lot better because the internet channel is growing at a much faster rate than shop sales, notwithstanding the continuing mess at the Royal Mail.

Next's management have got so hot under their expensively tailored collars about this that they included a lengthy explanation as to why their rationale is right in their interim management statement.

There's no mention of M&S but there is no doubt about who they were aiming at.

As for Sir Stuart Rose's mob, their argument amounts to this: We're M&S and we've always done it this way. So yah boo sucks to you Next.

There's nothing like a good old barney in the rag trade to raise a bit of a smile as winter starts to come round.

When it all come down to it, Next (just about) has the moral high ground. Greater disclosure is to be applauded (and they've decided to offer an M&S style figure as well, just in case you were interested).

All this aside, both companies appear to be showing some sort of improvement, adding further fuel to the feeling that this Christmas might be a merry(ish) one on the High Street after a tough couple of years. That's something to cheer about. If only the children could learn to play nicely.

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