The chilly autumn weather has triggered a hunger for comfort food, with Waitrose saying its new Heston Blumenthal-branded fish pies, chilli con carne and macaroni cheese helped ready-meal sales to surge 20 per cent in the week to 29 September.
The same seven days a year ago were hot – 28 degrees – and sunny, and Waitrose bosses were perhaps alone in being grateful for the 2012 chill.
"The cooler weather saw customers preparing for autumn with comfort food and store cupboards stocked up with autumn essentials. Tinned soup was up 47 per cent," Waitrose's retail director, Rob Collins, said.
Sales of bath and shower toiletries rose 32 per cent. Waitrose claimed that was because "people were taking time to prepare themselves for the harsher elements".
Overall, sales at the supermarket rose 6.9 per cent during the seven days.