Clothing retailer Next made a "disappointing" start to autumn trading which it said was down to unusually warm weather, rather than uncertainty over Britain's EU exit. 

While it did not give figures, Next said "the warm start to September has done much more to hinder sales than the political temperature".

It also said it has not seen any evidence that shoppers are holding back on small ticket price items due to Brexit. 

Britain is due to leave the European Union on October 31, but the government has yet to agree a new deal, increasing the risk of a disorderly "no-deal" Brexit. 

Next believes Brexit will only materially affect consumer spending in the event that it triggers inflationary pressure on prices or logistical problems at British ports. 

The retailer also reported a 2.7% rise in first-half profit as robust online sales more than offset a decline at its stores and it maintained its forecast for the full 2019-20 year.

Next trades from about 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, about 200 stores in 40 countries overseas and its Directory online business.

It made a pretax profit of £319.6m in the 26 weeks to the end of July. 

This was up from £311.1m the same time last year, on group sales up 3.7% to £2.06 billion. 

Full-price sales at Next's stores fell 3.9% in the period, but they were up 11.9% online, starkly illustrating the clothing industry's structural shift from physical stores to online. 

However, the firm says its stores will remain profitable even if they become less productive.

For 2019-20 Next foresees full-price sales up 3.6% and pretax profit of £725m, a 0.3% rise on the 2018-19 outcome, with earnings per share growth of 5.2%, reflecting share buybacks.