Britons stockpile thermal underwear to fight rising heating bills

FILE PHOTO: People queue outside a John Lewis a store announcing a seasonal sale, in London

LONDON (Reuters) - British shoppers are stockpiling thermal underwear, gloves and dressing gowns to help them fight the cold this winter as they try to avoid turning up the thermostat to save money.

Sales of hooded blankets, onesies, thermals, dressing gowns and slippers have soared in recent weeks according to John Lewis, Britain's biggest department store chain.

Energy bills have jumped this year and consumers are grappling with high inflation on all goods including food, while mortgage rates have also started to rise, leading to a sharp cost-of-living squeeze.

That makes saving a few pounds by wrapping up warm rather than turning up the heating an attractive option, and John Lewis said its customers were buying extra layers to get them through the winter.

Sales of women's winter thermals more than doubled last week compared to the previous week, while a wearable blanket with a hood was now a bestseller. Dressing gown sales were up 76% compared to last year.

"With the cost of energy such a concern, we are seeing customers spend with heat in mind," said Claire Miles, Head of Category Fashion at John Lewis in a statement on Thursday.

One-piece onesies were also flying off the shelves much earlier than usual, the retailer said, in a sign that they were being bought for warmth this year rather than as a light-hearted Christmas gift.

Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, said on Wednesday that customers were continuing to change their shopping habits to save money.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton)