Retailers are reaping the benefits after swiftly getting behind the Pokémon Go phenomenon sweeping across the country.

The smartphone reality app game was officially launched in the UK last week and encourages players – children and adults alike – to take to the streets to ‘catch’ virtual Pokémon characters. Retailers have found ‘creatures’ in their stores and used social media as a way of enticing customers inside to ‘catch’ them.

Bintesh Amin, of Blean Village Londis in Kent, has been giving away chocolate to players who post photos of the creatures to his social media channels. He said: “It’s brought a few people in to our store and it’s great for awareness and branding.

“We’ve had them in and around the shops and there are so many hashtags you can use to encourage people.”

Sid Sidhu, of Sukhi’s Simply Fresh in Kenilworth, said he has picked up extra sales from players visiting his shop.

“I got involved really early, downloading a US version, and one aspect I noticed is it could drive footfall through the store,” he said.

“We were a pit stop for the game and we’ve had loads of people in. We also had a rare character near our bins. We had to get someone to supervise kids there. It’s been crazy. And parents coming in have been spending.

“It’s great because it’s the type of consumer we wouldn’t normally be getting in a supermarket consumer rather than a convenience store one. It’s all about getting the timing right and getting into it early.”

Another store that has taken advantage of the new craze is Singh’s Premier which gave players the chance to meet character Pikachu.

Meanwhile, Eugene Diamond, of Diamonds Newsagents in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, said: “We had someone in at 6.30am trying to catch one. He was ecstatic, it was my first encounter with it – he told me he was in his fifties. It was quite funny and these things are great for Twitter, it becomes a conversation point with my customers.”