Reuters has reported that shares in Next, which trades from over 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, nearly 200 stores in over 30 countries overseas, and the Next Directory online and catalogue business, rose over 5.4% on Wednesday after it guided to a 2012-13 pretax profit of £575-620M.
That was up from a previous expectation of £560-610M and equates to growth of 0.8-8.7% on 2011-12.
"As Next always seem to come in at the top of the range, market forecasts will now focus on pretax profit of £620M for the year ending January, which will deliver 15% EPS growth: not bad in a low growth UK economy," said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb.
Although inflation and unemployment are falling Britain is in recession and many retailers are hurting as consumers grapple with meagre wage growth and government austerity measures and worry about a flat housing market and fallout from the Eurozone debt crisis.
On Monday a survey by the Confederation of British Industry showed British retail sales rose in July more slowly than stores had expected, while on Tuesday a GfK survey said UK consumers' gloomy mood failed to improve in July.
Next, the official clothing and homeware supplier to the London 2012 Olympic Games, has defied the gloom, helped by its strong online offer, a constant stream of new store openings and diversification into homeware and overseas.
Shares in Next, which have risen over a third in the last year, were up 174 pence at 3,393 pence, valuing the business at about £5.62Bn.
"This statement is further evidence that Next is outperforming peers and gaining market share," said Investec analyst Bethany Hocking.
Next's total sales rose 4.5%, excluding VAT sales tax, in the six months to July 28. That compares with a company objective of an increase of 1-4% and a rise of 1.4% in its first quarter.
Some 2.5% of the total growth was because of new space.
First half retail sales rose 0.2% versus guidance of flat to down 3%, while Directory sales increased 13.3% compared with guidance of up 9-12%, with 2% of the growth coming from overseas.
Its first half performance looks good when compared with rival Marks & Spencer, which last month reported a 6.8% fall in first-quarter like-for-like general merchandise sales, blaming record rainfall in April and June for its worst sales performance for three-and-a-half years.
Analysts reckon the wet summer weather encouraged shoppers to go online, boosting Next Directory.
However, Next chief executive Simon Wolfson noted Directory's best two weeks of the period came during two weeks of fine weather in May.
"I think generally Directory is just more robust than retail because online is growing across the market rather than any weather specific (factor)," he told Reuters.
He is happy with the firm's autumn/winter ranges and forecast no price increases in like-for-like product in the second half and possible reductions.
Next now anticipates total sales growth in 2012-13 of 2-4.5%. After taking into account a £200M share buy back and lower corporation tax, it expects EPS to grow 6% more than the growth in pretax profit.
Wolfson, a prominent eurosceptic and supporter of Britain's ruling Conservative Party who sits in the upper house of Parliament, said he was not worried about the UK economy.
"I don't think the economy's going to take a turn for the worse but I think it's going to be treading water for some time," he said.
"If you look across Europe you'd say that actually Britain's in a pretty good place."
Wolfson said he was not surprised central London had been very quiet in the opening days of the Olympics and noted big TV events, such as Friday's opening ceremony, had dented online sales.
"It's only a couple of weeks and in the scheme of things it won't be enormously important either way."