Trading comment from Waitrose Personnel Director, Helen Hyde, for the week ending 16th January 2016.

While provisional divisional sales (excluding fuel) were flat compared with the same week last year, affordable fine dining combined with promotions to deliver strong sales growth across a number of categories last week.

More and more customers are choosing from our premium range of restaurant quality ready meals when it comes to dining at home. Favourites, including cottage pie, beef bourguignon and fish pie, were all up by 19 per cent, while the shepherd’s pie and lasagne dishes were up by 37 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

Boosted by a promotion, fish counter sales flourished, up 11 per cent compared to the same week last year. White fish sales were up 43 per cent, salmon and trout sales leapt by 30 per cent, smoked fish was up by 24 per cent and oily fish sales were up by 224 per cent.

We saw massive uplifts of individual lines, including smoked cod, up 214 per cent, Alaskan salmon, up 101 per cent, and Cornish sardines, which were up by 108 per cent.

Customers were also purchasing lines traditionally associated with more affordable luxury dining. Shellfish sales jumped by 37 per cent, exotic fish sales grew by 19 per cent and Caviar sales increased by 29 per cent as customers pushed the boat out.

Venison saw big increases, too, with sales rising by 36 per cent. Its growing popularity has led to us increasing the number of products we stock, as well as making them available in more branches than ever.

Elsewhere, the colder weather has seen shoppers seeking out heart-warming British dishes. Sales of Waitrose Chicken Pie 210g were up by more than 50 per cent, Waitrose Roast Chicken Pie 550g sales were up by almost 22 per cent and sales of the Waitrose Aberdeen Angus Steak and Ale Pie 550g were up by more than 15 per cent.

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