Online fashion retailer ASOS has today forecast a full-year profit at the top end of market forecasts after Christmas trading surpassed its expectations helped by strong demand during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. 

Analysts have forecast a pretax profit of £115-170m compared to a pretax profit of £142.1m in 2019-2020. 

ASOS, which sells fashion aimed at 20-somethings, said group retail sales rose 23% over the four months to December 31 year on year. 

The group has traded through coronavirus lockdowns while store-based rivals have had to close shops for months. 

It also benefited from fewer products being returned by shoppers during the crisis, as well as investment in product, pricing and marketing, it said. 

Its active customer base increased by 1.1 million to 24.5 million, ASOS said. 

However, its gross margin fell 90 basis points, partly reflecting changes to its product mix and increased freight costs. 

The group said it would incur Brexit tariff costs of about £15m in 2020-21 associated with country of origin rules. 

ASOS shares have risen by 57% over the last year. 

Last week, ASOS said it would invest £90m in a new fulfilment centre in Staffordshire.

It said the new centre would employ 2,000 people over the next three years.