Next PLC, announced 4.1 pct increase in Total sales today but remained 'cautious' leading its FTSE 100 shares to fall on the London Stock Exchange.

Shares in the high street and online retailer were down 2 pct by 10:22am BST paring earlier losses.

Retail sales for the thirteen weeks up to May 1 were ahead by 2.8 pct whilst Next Directory was up a whopping 7.2 pct.

Inclusive of VAT, which has now reverted to its previous higher level, sales were higher than reported – however, Next reported in a statement that their sales were considered without VAT which had been changed.

"We remain very cautious in our outlook for the year ahead. We anticipate that a new government will have to take action to tackle the budget deficit." Next said.

"Our internal profit before tax forecasts are towards the top end of the range of current City forecasts" said Next. "Most of which fall between £525m and £625m".

"Product and operating costs remain well controlled throughout the group and our foreign exchange requirements are covered for the year ahead."

"We reconfirm that, in the event of full year Retail like for like sales being -2.5 pct, then we would expect group operating margin to increase by around 1 pct"

Like for like sales excluding direct were down 0.8 pct.

Richard Hunter, Head of UK Equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, commented "The company's caution on the immediate outlook is understandable, but the market is in little mood at the moment for more negative noise, as evidenced by the dip in the share price in early trade.

Within the figures and working backwards, Next has again shown its credentials as a core holding within the retailing sector. Overall sales have risen again and the Directory business in particular continues to maintain its robust growth. The balance sheet remains in good shape and, until now at least, the consumer has proven resilient. Indeed, Next has stated that its full year projections at this stage are towards the top end of estimates.

However, this consumer resilience is likely to come under pressure following the likely draconian measures which the new government will be announcing. As such, the company has tried to manage investor expectations for the months ahead. The shares have had a reasonable run of late, rising 15% in the last three months alone versus a wider FTSE100 gain of 7%. On balance, the market consensus is that despite the caution, the shares remain a buy."