Tesco is poised to become the UK’s biggest Easter egg retailer after buying forward orders of its exclusive lines destined for now-defunct Woolworths.

The deal means Tesco's Easter egg range will show “a huge increase", said Tesco executive director, corporate and legal affairs, Lucy Neville-Rolfe. One gift pack will sell for just£2.49.

Prior to its administration, Woolworths was the largest seller of Easter eggs. Easter is the second biggest chocolate-selling occasion after Christmas.

Tesco is also introducing more “meal deals” in response to changing customer buying habits during the credit crunch. For Valentine's Day, Tesco is retailing a starter, main course, side dish and dessert for two from its Finest range, and a bottle of wine or Prosecco for£9. Next week it will also offer a family meal deal.

Neville-Rolfe said: “When we launched our Finest meal deal, 28 per cent of customers buying them had not bought a ready meal for three months.”

Tesco's research showed that customers are shopping differently, said UK marketing director Carolyn Bradley. Shoppers are using lists more frequently, planning meals and cutting back on treats, but remain committed to environmental and ethical concerns.

Bradley said: “We listen to our customers and provide them with the means to trade down in our stores. There is also a sense that consumerism was extravagant - now shoppers don't want to waste anything.”

She added that while the Finest range performed best over Christmas, the Value offer has taken the top spot since February.

25 per cent of Tesco customers now purchase a Discounter-branded product every week. Discounter lines now total 550 and categories such as children's food and health and beauty have been introduced.

Bradley said: “Customers don't necessarily want all Value lines and it is important that we offer them choice. We're very satisfied with how the Discounter brands are performing.”

Tesco has also slashed clothing prices and has experienced a 100 per cent uplift in sales of its£15 suit year on year.