Retail trading updates eyed in first week of 2021 as coronavirus lockdowns roll-on

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The first week of January will begin to see the news cycle pick up again after the lockdown Christmas and New Year holidays with trading updates expected from some of the UK’s biggest retailers.


Meanwhile, the macro calendar will return with a selection of UK and US PMI readings as well as the all-important US non-farm payrolls data on Friday, January 8.


Next and Morrison’s to report on festive trading


Tuesday is scheduled to see a trading update from clothing retailer Next PLC (LON:NXT) which should provide investors with some insight into how the firm has fared over a festive season beset by lockdown measures and store closures.


The company previously upgraded its profit forecasts for the full year after the third-quarter was boosted by its online operation, so investors will be hoping it has performed a similar feat across the last few months of 2020 as lockdown measures have kept customers at home.


Next previously forecast a full-year pre-tax profit of GBP365mln while net debt was also projected to fall by GBP487mln to GBP625mln, so shareholders will be watching to see if the latest round of disruptions has caused any alteration to these numbers.


Also delivering an update on that day will be grocery group WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), which may have fared better than many retailers during lockdown as the government restrictions drive people’s cash away from other closed outlets and into supermarket coffers.


UK supermarkets enjoyed their best month ever in November, boosted by early Christmas shopping and a second national coronavirus lockdown, so investors will be hoping this has continued over the similarly locked down festive period on top of the usual boost at this time of year.


There may also be interest in the progress of Morrison’s partnership with Amazon, which allows consumers to order its groceries and other products for delivery through the e-commerce giant’s platform.


Greggs issues fresh update


On Wednesday, bakery chain Greggs PLC (LON:GRG) will issue a trading update for its fourth quarter, although the figures may bring little festive cheer for the firm as it continues to review possible job cuts, with recent lockdown measures unlikely to improve the situation as its branches are likely to have closed in multiple areas.


With this in mind, investors may instead hope the company’s sales have not been hit too badly, as well as its outlook for the coming months and any changes to its long-term strategy.


Barratt eyed for housing market situation


Housebuilder Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) will issue an update on Friday, January 8, with investors likely to watch for any comment on how the recent lockdown measures have affected the company’s construction activity as well as any impact on its order numbers.


Shareholders will also be interested in the company’s outlook for the year ahead, particularly with the UK’s stamp duty holiday due to come to an end shortly which may impact buying activity across the market.


In an update in mid-October, Barratt noted that assuming no further national lockdowns took place, private sales should total between 14,500 and 15,000 homes in the year to June 2021 with around a further 650 completions from joint ventures. However, seeing as the last few months have seen ever more restrictive lockdown measures brought in to contain the spread of COVID-19, investors will be seeing if this forecast can be maintained.


Significant announcements expected for the week ending January 8, 2021:


Monday January 4:


Economic data: UK manufacturing PMI, US manufacturing PMI


Tuesday January 5:


Trading announcements: WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), Next PLC (LON:NXT)


Wednesday January 6:


Trading announcements: Greggs PLC (LON:GRG)


Economic data: UK services PMI, US ADP unemployment, US services PMI


Thursday January 7:


FTSE 100 ex-dividends to knock 0.71 points off the index: AVEVA Group PLC (LON:AVV), Experian PLC (LON:EXPN), British Land Company PLC (LON:BLND)


Economic data: UK construction PMI, US trade balance, US jobless claims


Friday January 8:


Trading announcements: Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV)


Finals: Intermediate Capital Group PLC (LON:ICP)


Economic data: US non-farm payrolls

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