Soaring sales of soft drinks and fresh foods have helped boost trading across the multiples by 6.6% in the month to 11 July, according to new figures from Nielsen.

Increasingly confident household spending, combined with the recent hot weather, pushed up overall volume growth across the grocery multiples by 3% – leading Nielsen to describe the figures as the best underlying growth it has reported on in more than two years.

Mike Watkins, senior manager of retailer services at Nielsen, picked out Sainsbury's in particular for driving sales over the period.

"Sainsbury's continues to fire on all cylinders with frequency of visit up 6% – better than most other retailers in the last four weeks, as shoppers maximised spend on fresh foods during the heat wave but at the same time optimised their spend on packaged grocery."

Asda recorded "strong growth" in both grocery and general merchandise. Watkins said it had the potential "to continue to steal recessionary market share from non-food channels."

Meanwhile, shares in Morrisons rose by 8% yesterday following its 9.5% sales growth over the 12 weeks to July 12 (TNS).