Multiple retailers have been accused of damaging the Easter egg market by Hancocks, one of the country’s leading confectionery cash and carry chains.

Purchasing director Richard Brittle said: “With the multiples driving prices down on an ever widening range of Easter eggs in an attempt to increase their footfall at this time of year, the whole Easter market is suffering - to the detriment of everyone concerned. “Consumers are now well aware of the retailer trend towards giving 50% off eggs on Easter Sunday and will hold on to spend less. The market is damaged, with less consumer spend and a higher volume of very low-margin, cheap eggs.”

Hancocks tried to overcome this problem by offering new and novel Easter products that were not available in the multiples, and encouraged customers to trade in the premium sector of the market.

Retailer Trevor Parkes of Parkes News and Toys, Upton, Dorset, has been in the CTN business for 40 years and says that the main trouble began four years ago when the multiples started to slash prices to compete with each other.

He said: “There was no way that the independents could compete, and since then things have just got worse and worse. It makes the Easter egg category a complete nuisance, although it’s something we have to sell.”

Richard Chapman, who owns Sands Road Mini Market, Paignton, Devon, has also felt the effect of the Easter egg wars. He said: “I decided I’d only sell Easter eggs if I could do so at the same price as the big boys. So I waited until Good Friday, when my local wholesaler reduced them to half price, and then sold them at three for £5.”

However, retailer Katrina Frayling of Coventry Farm News, Wroughton, Wiltshire, said: “This year we sold all our Easter eggs at the full price, way before Easter. We had to get extras in before the Easter weekend, despite having a Somerfield down the road offering two eggs for £5.”