A long Easter weekend and warmer weather drove trade at Waitrose last week (to April 4) with divisional sales – excluding petrol – up 22.8% compared with the same week last year. Compared to Easter Week 2014 (April 13-19), total branch sales were up 1.2%.
Easter confectionery sales rose 7%, with the Heston from Waitrose Dark Chocolate Egg (which shimmers with edible gold dust) particularly popular, with sales up 150%. The egg was also named the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Best Easter Egg for Grown-ups, along with the bestselling Waitrose Caramel Fudge Chocolate Egg, which was crowned the Institute’s overall winning egg.
Waitrose commercial director Mark Williamson commented: “It wasn’t all chocolate, though. We had our best ever Easter for non-food, which was up 16% on last year, and saw record demand for Easter bonnets and plush toys.
“Sales of Easter flowers and plants grew 32%, while home baking equipment saw an 8% rise. Demand for eggs jumped by 10%. And for those not wanting to start from scratch in the kitchen, our Simnel cake proved popular with sales rocketing 130%, while hot cross bun sales rose 13% compared to last year.”
Lamb legs and Aberdeen Angus roasting beef were the most popular roasting joints, rising 11.5% and 13.7% respectively, and Scottish salmon fillets had a 50% surge in sales.
The giving of Easter greetings cards also seems to be a growing trend: sales rose by 10% and even overtook sales of birthday cards. And the leisurely weekend meant sales of roast and ground coffees were up 38%.
Mark Williamson noted: “Customers were, perhaps, also preparing for visits from guests with household cleaning products up 12%.The warmer weather at the end of the bank holiday weekend also helped spur a 24% rise in sales of rosé wines. Likewise, strawberries saw a 32% rise, and we recently announced being the first supermarket this year to stock English strawberries.”