Snuffling, sneezing Britons spend well over £500 million a year on over-the-counter cold remedies, the market for which has skyrocketed by more than 70% in the last six years, research shows.
But the cost of the cold and flu season is even greater for employers. Smaller companies alone are expected to lose as much as £3.4 billion due to sick days taken as a result of illness brought on by cold winter weather in the next six months.
Some two thirds of the 63 million days of absence taken each year by employees of British companies are attributed to the annual cold and flu season, according to the figures from office supplies company Viking.
Its findings also revealed that sickness rates are typically 27% higher in winter than during the other seasons of the year. The company is therefore urging workers to avoid getting ill - and paying out for cold and flu cures - by maintaining high levels of hygiene and cleanliness in the office.
Viking's Lisa Ackerley said: "Keeping equipment such as keyboards, phones and desks as germ free as possible is even more important during the cold and flu season."
A quick check on its site, for example, shows that Sainsbury's currently has a special offer on Beecham's Active Cold Relief Caplets. It is therefore charging just £2.06, versus £3.10 with Tesco or Ocado (the online version of Waitrose). Lemon flavour Lemsip Cold & Flu, on the other hand, is £2.20 at Sainsbury's but just £1.95 at Tesco and Asda.
For even bigger savings, you can also use the site to compare the cost of own-brand cold cures. Asda's own Cold & Flu Relief lemon sachets, for example, are at £1.52, while the Sainsbury's version of the same product comes in at £1.66.
And if you need some super-soft Kleenex Balsam tissues to wipe your sore nose then it is worth knowing that Tesco is currently offering this product at a knockdown price of £1.75 a box, compared to £2.37 at Sainsbury's. You can save even more by buying two boxes for £3 at Asda, though.