UK supermarket sales increased 0.4% year-on-year in the four weeks ending 18 June, according to new figures from Nielsen.

It represents the first year-on-year rise in sales value since 18 July 2015, although sales volume remained flat (0.0%) for the second consecutive period.

“It remains a tough trading environment for the big supermarkets but changes made over the last year in lowering prices, less promotions, edited ranges and improved customer service seem to be having an impact, alongside the drop in shoppers buying cheaper grocery brands to save money,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight.

“Furthermore, deflation is no longer deepening and, with the effect on figures of some store closures last year soon to be behind us, we can be more optimistic about a supermarket recovery later this year.”

On the impact of the EU referendum result, he said: “Whilst the Brexit decision is unlikely to change shopper behaviour in the short term, we can expect some change in consumer sentiment and, possibly, a return to low inflation next year – should sterling’s depreciation continue and global commodity prices strengthen.

“However, for now, the battle for market share continues and shoppers will benefit from falling prices at food retailers due to price cuts and the deflationary environment.”