The mini-heatwave provided a shot in the arm for Britain’s high streets as shoppers stocked up for the stark change in weather.
After weeks of snow, rain and cloudy conditions, footfall to high streets jumped 15% on Thursday – the warmest April day for almost 70 years.
Consumers made the most of the change in temperatures, flocking to snap up sun cream, summer clothes, barbecue food and ice-cream.
Sales of sun cream rocketed almost five-fold last week, purchases of burgers and other barbecue food surged 270% at Waitrose, and Argos sold double the number of barbecues it usually offloads at this time of the year.
“Consumers are definitely responding to the warm and sunny weather by visiting stores,” Springboard’s marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle told The Guardian.
Supermarket chains were expected to benefit most from the heatwave, with Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco predicting it would sell more than eight million sausages, two million punnets of strawberries and three million ice-lollies at the weekend alone.
Sainsbury’s expected a 150% jump in sales of ice-cream and a 365% spike in barbecue coals, while Waitrose predicted a 300% rise in sales of ice cubes and a 150% uplift in beer.
But fashion and footwear retailers are also thought to have benefited from the warmer weather, which saw the mercury climb to 28°C in the Southeast – hotter than Italy and Spain.
Clarks boss Mike Shearwood said: “March was tough in the UK market, but there has been a significant improvement in sales in the last week.”
However, he warned the uptick would not make up for a difficult March for retailers.
Shearwood said: “It’s slightly better, but everybody will be in the park or the pub. They will not be flooding to the shops.”