C-store owners are celebrating record sales this month after heavy snowfalls followed by torrential rain prompted shoppers to shun the supermarkets and shop locally.

Some stores in the worst-hit areas of South-East England saw their takings jump by 50% in the first weeks of February as people walked to shops to stock up on essential items such as bread and milk.

Nisa retailer Kishor Patel, who owns seven stores in the Midlands, said takings in one of his stores were up by £8,000 after more than 10cm of snow fell in just a few hours. “I’ve worked in retail for 23 years and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said. “Last week was one of the most amazing and tiring weeks that I have ever known.” Demand for bread was so exceptional that Kishor was forced to drive to a nearby Allied Bakeries production site and buy it direct, after running out in just a few hours.

Independent retailer Steve Denham, who owns Cherilyn stores in West Sussex, said that his takings had increased by 30% thanks to the snow.

“We had a captive audience of people who couldn’t travel because the roads were impassable and trains were cancelled,” he said. “We were further helped by the fact that the local Tesco had not received any deliveries as it couldn’t get its lorries out of the supply base.”

Deepa Patel of Thorkhill stores in Thames Ditton, Surrey, was also celebrating, after forecasts of further wintry weather and widespread flooding prompted shoppers to stock up on store cupboard basics.

Figures published by research company Experian showed a 16.6% drop in footfall in department stores for the week commencing February 2, and an 11.4% fall in retail parks. Bruno Rost, head of business strategies at Experian, said: “There is no doubt that convenience stores came into their own last week as Britain’s transport infrastructure froze. Many shoppers looked closer to home for their essentials. Convenience stores provided a vital service as people were confined to much shorter journeys.”