The sales increase was partly due to the snowy weather, said SalesOut, which tracks sales from 11,000 independents. Consumers had topped up at local c-stores rather than driven to out-of-town supermarkets, it said.
Independents outperformed the multiples in sales growth over the period. Morrisons, the best-performing of the big four, showed like-for-like sales growth of 6.5%.
Cider and spirits were among the strongest categories for indies, with sales up 22.7% and 21.1% respectively. Sales of alcohol as a whole were up 12.3%, with beer and wine sales showing modest increases, which SalesOut blamed on some retailers selling duty-avoided booze.
There were also strong sales of laundry powder, which increased by 30%, and petcare products, which rose 17%.
"Sales in the independent sector continue to perform well, showing continued resilience in the recession," said SalesOut commercial director Steve Collins. "Shoppers have not necessarily wanted to risk longer journeys to bigger shops because of the conditions on the roads and have turned to their local retail outlets for essential purchases."
He added that it had been a strong year for independents, with a 6.6% rise in like-for-like sales in 2009.