Sales volumes at the UK’s leading supermarkets have increased year-on-year for the first time since mid-July 2013, according to new data from Nielsen.

The major supermarkets enjoyed a 0.6% increase in sales growth for the four weeks ending 3 January 2015 compared to the same period a year ago. It is the first four-week year-on-year increase in volume since 20 July 2013.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said much had been made of people spending less in supermarkets but little attention was paid to how much they were buying.

“The fact they’re starting to buy more - driven by confectionery, snacks, drinks, fruit and veg, and delicatessen - is a bright start to 2015 for the major supermarkets,” he added.

“The relative improvement in the fortunes of the major supermarkets in December was helped by shoppers visiting in the few days before Christmas Day which tempered some of the momentum of the discounters.”