Total sales at Waitrose last week rose by 7.1 per cent on last year.

The mixed weather made for a week of polarised shopping trends, with both warm and cold weather products selling well.

The milder temperatures in the early part of the week prompted strong sales of products more typically associated with the spring and summer months. This went hand-in-hand with the trend towards healthy eating which we traditionally see at this time of year, Diet and health ice creams, including low fat varieties and frozen yoghurts, performed particularly well, with sales up 29.5 per cent on last year. Mini tubs of ice cream were popular with customers looking to better control portion sizes.

Soft fruits had a strong week with blueberry sales up 16 per cent on last year, strawberries up 45 per cent and blackberries up 98 per cent. Core and prepared salad sales both rose by 13 per cent on the same period in 2011.

Early milder weather has meant that spring flowers are available earlier than usual this year and customers have been buying bunches of British daffodils, up 19 per cent, British tulips, up 32 per cent and British scented Narcissi, up 80 per cent.

However, the mixed nature of trade was emphasised by a colder snap in the second half of the week that prompted shoppers to stock up on warming food and drink including instant coffee, up 33 per cent and traditional British ready meals, up 75 per cent.

The deepening chill prompted sales of car care products, which saw a 46 per cent increase as drivers bought de-icer in preparation for morning frost.

Early-bird shoppers are already looking ahead to the next big seasonal event, with sales of Easter confectionery up by 130 per cent on last year. Last week the company opened its final branch of this financial year in Hampton, Middlesex.