News agency Reuters reports that Debenhams has bucked the gloomy trend, helped by its breadth of products, broad range of customers, multiple routes to market and increased marketing spend.
The group, which trades from 167 stores in Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark, and over 60 international franchise stores, said it would meet analysts' consensus expectations of about £156M for the year to 1 September pretax profit, up from £152M in 2010-11.
It said sales at stores open over a year rose 3.7%, excluding VAT, in the 10 weeks to 1 September.
That compared with a rise of 3.1% in the 16 weeks to 23 June and took the increase for the year to 1.6% - ahead of analysts' consensus expectations of up 0.6%.
The firm won market share in womenswear and grew or maintained share in all other areas.
Chief executive Michael Sharp told reporters he expected Debenhams to continue to deliver like-for-like sales growth in its new financial year and said he was encouraged by the start to the autumn/winter season.
Debenhams' performance contrasted starkly with Next, Britain's second largest clothing retailer, which said last week that sales in August and early September had been "disappointing", and clothing market leader Marks & Spencer which lost womenswear market share in its first quarter.
"We saw no slowdown at all in August," said Sharp.
He said Debenhams' variety of product categories, a core clothing offer supplemented by accessories, homewares and health and beauty, meant it was less exposed than other retailers to the vagaries of Britain's weather.
"If the sun's shining or it's raining we have more tunes to play across the product range than many other retailers," said the CEO.
Debenhams said its 2011-12 gross margin would be in line with guidance of 30 basis points lower than 2010-11.
That reflected a higher proportion of lower margin health and beauty and clothing concession sales in the overall sales mix rather than any increase in promotional activity.
As well as refurbishing stores, Debenhams plans to open 14 new stores over the next five years, adding 7% to trading space and driving incremental sales of about £180M. It also sees an opportunity for a further 76 UK stores.
Shares in Debenhams, up 77% over the last year and valuing the firm at £1.26Bn.
"With the refurbishment programme, online initiatives, margin upside, new space opportunities and a good start to autumn/winter, Debenhams continues to exhibit more momentum than its competitor set," said Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson.
Sharp does not envisage a change in the economic outlook for the British consumer any time soon.
"The new financial year is all about what we do to make a difference... We can't rely upon any benefit coming from the economy because there's no clear signs yet of any form of improvement," he said.
He said he would welcome government initiatives to get young people back to work.