Shares in Next were down on the FTSE 100 in afternoon trading ahead of the group's half year results, due out tomorrow.

The retailer is expected to be cautious about the outlook for the British economy, with consumer confidence expected to drop when government cuts and a VAT rise kick in.

Added to this is the prospect of higher costs for the company brought about by rising cotton prices and currency headwinds.

Keith Bowman, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said, "Full year profit guidance was reiterated [by Next], with costs falling as a percentage of revenues and online sales forecast to rise given an improved service offering and broader positive trends. Profit guidance in the range of £535m to £560m was noted, with the current analyst consensus forecast of £551.4m suggesting a 9.1% increase over last year. Ahead of the results, consensus market opinion currently denotes a strong hold."

By 16:00 shares in Next were down 1.63 per cent on the FTSE 100 to 2,049.00 pence per share.