Fashion chain Next today said the warmer weather had boosted trading as it looks to recover from a difficult start to the year.
Like-for-like sales at its retail stores fell 8.9% in the 13 weeks to April 26, although Next said the sales had "picked up markedly" since then.
Despite the weather-related improvement, Next said it remained cautious about the outlook. It told shareholders: "Financial pressures on our customers resulting from cost increases in food, fuel, mortgage repayments and taxation look set to continue."
Next said sales were expected to improve in the second quarter of the year as it comes up against comparisons with poor weather conditions last year.
In the last 11 days, Next said, the like-for-like sales drop for the year to date had reduced to a fall of 7.8%. Total sales for the retail business, including the impact of store openings, are now down 3.8% - compared with the fall of 5% seen at the end of April.
At annual results in March, the group predicted a like-for-like sales decline of between 4% and 7% across its high street stores in the first half of the year. It said today that the figure was likely to be towards the bottom end of that forecast, at around minus 7%.
It said: "We had planned for weak demand and remain confident that we will have less stock for the end of season sale than we had at the same time last year. As a result, we are not planning any additional mark-down activity."
Next added that its full-year profit forecasts were in line with those in the City, with the majority of broker estimates being in the range of £475 million to £505 million.
Next spent last year revitalising its stores and ranges in an attempt to "put the magic back" into the brand which has struggled in recent years.
It set aside £122 million to spend on its stores in 2007, and by the end of this year almost three-quarters of its 502 outlets will be new, refitted or redecorated.
Next's online and catalogue Directory has been a key sales driver in recent years as the high street stores struggle. Next Directory sales for the first quarter of the year were down 1% on last year, the company said today.