Convenience stores have reported a surge in sales of tissues and antibacterial products following public concern over a swine flu pandemic.

Media reports, government leaflets sent to every household last week and a television public information campaign have helped send consumer spending on hygiene items rocketing.

West Sussex retailer Steve Denham said he had sold twice as many Kleenex For Men Tissues in the first week of May compared with the same period last year.

Sales of Kimberly-Clark's Kleenex Hygiene Kit have surged by 1,000% in the past two weeks, while soap manufacturer PZ Cussons revealed that sales of its Carex brand, which it claims kills 99.9% of bacteria, were up substantially.

Doctors and health professionals have advised retailers who are concerned about the welfare of their staff and customers to increase the number of times that store counters, till screens and keyboards are cleaned.

They also recommended keeping tissues and sanitising gel at the counter and in stock rooms for staff to use.