Half-year sales at hampers and Christmas savings specialist Park Group rocketed as hard-pressed consumers increasingly put money aside for the festive period.

Sales at the retailer’s Christmas savings business surged 37% to £5.8m in the six months to September 30. Park Group managing director Chris Houghton said: “Our business has always done well in tough times as people prepare for the expensive Christmas period”.

Across the business the retailer posted a pre-tax profit of £500,000 compared with a £4m loss last year, on sales up 49% to £50.9m for the six-month period.

Park usually makes all its profits in the second half but this year sales soaring across the business coupled with a sizable VAT rebate in the first half put the firm in the black.

Revenue from corporate sales vouchers rocketed 51% year on year. The retailer said its new pre-paid Flexecash card, launched in June, had already racked up £14m worth of sales. The card, which can be offered by employers as a staff incentive or over the counter as an ‘electronic’ gift voucher, is redeemable at 23 retailers, including Argos.

AIM-listed Park is the leading Christmas savings club and has continued to thrive following the collapse of rival Farepak four years ago.