Panic-buyers purring for cat litter

FOOD essentials are flying off the shelves in Suffolk today as shoppers race to stock up before the blizzards arrive.

Simon Tomlinson

FOOD essentials were flying off the shelves in Suffolk today as shoppers raced to stock up before the blizzards arrive.

Customers at Tesco stores in Kesgrave and Martlesham are reporting a shortage of eggs, bread and milk, while there was also word of rapidly emptying shelves at Sainsbury's in Warren Heath.

Anti-freeze products, boots and thermal underwear have also proved popular, alongside a surprise best-seller - cat litter.

Since it was recently made known how cat litter can be used in place of grit to clear paths and driveways, Asda has reported sales up by 55per cent in just two days across the country. Sainsbury's has seen a 20 per cent rise.

Hot, hearty food was much in demand, with Asda selling 50 per cent more porridge and other oat cereals as this time last year and 20per cent more ready-made hotpots and casseroles.

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Stodgy puddings were also up, while Tesco said soup sales were up 80 per cent on two weeks ago.

The deepening winter chill was encouraging shoppers to stock up on cold weather gear, with thermal underwear sales up ten-fold at Asda and wellington boots also sought after.

Sainsbury's has seen a 160per cent increase in sales of flasks and travel mugs since this time last year.

Hotpots and casseroles are already up 20per cent as people seek out comfort foods and there has been a 27per cent uplift on ready meals such as pizzas, lasagne and curries.

And as the snow storm hits, sales of candles and matches are predicted to increase by over 20 per cent this week alone. Sales of table salt were up 600per cent in Scotland.

David Bailey, Sainsbury's weather analyst said: “We know shoppers' buying habits change according to the weather - a temperature change of three degrees from the seasonal average can result in sales of some products going up by as much as 50%.

“An average week in January would normally see maximum daytime temperatures of 6-10C but this week we're expecting these to be between -2 to 3C so we've been working hard to ensure our shelves are fully stocked with everything our customers need to see them through this cold spell.”