The heavy snow has caused havoc for retailers with many of the major chains shutting shops early so staff can get home safely.

On Tuesday, among those to close stores was Marks & Spencer, which shut 50, and Home Retail shut 6.

Today, Carphone Warehouse has shut 21 shops, Currys and PC World closed 40 and Home Retail said it was closing several shops early.

Footfall figures on Tuesday showed shopper numbers were down 13.5% against the same day last year.

The adverse weather conditions has also caused several shopping centres to close their doors early on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among those affected in the north were Meadowhall in Sheffield, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and White Rose in Leeds. In the south, schemes such as Brent Cross in London and Festival Place in Basingstoke have suffered.

Etailers have also been affected. Amazon said on its website that it has suspended express and evening delivery options and said deliveries may take one or two days extra to arrive because of the snow.

The grocers have benefitted from the cold snap with shoppers stocking up on warming foods and cat litter to grit driveways. Asda said sales of 25kg bags of grit were up by 32%, sales of cat litter is up by 55% and sales of George thermal underwear is up by 1,000%.

Tesco said soup sales over the last 24 hours are up 80% on two weeks ago, and ready meals sales are up 40% on the same period.

Tesco senior convenuence foods buyer Simon Williams said: “Since yesterday afternoon we have seen an unprecedented demand for essential winter warming foods with soup top of most people’s shopping lists. This week we expect to sell at least 500,000 litres of soup which is 60% more than during a normal week and is the equivalent of two Olympic sized swimming pools full.

“The last snowfall two weeks caught many people out and made shopping trips quite hazardous especially in more open areas so it appears that this time round shoppers are being more canny and are stocking up just in case.”

The grocers’ online operations have been affected though. Asda said that it was contacting all customers that it could not reach to rearrange, meet them half way, or pick the goods at their nearest store ready for collection.