Worried shoppers hoping to protect themselves from coronavirus led to sales of hand sanitiser in supermarkets more than tripling in the last month.

Sales soared by 255 per cent during February, according to new data from Kantar Worldpanel.

Meanwhile, liquid soap sales increased by seven per cent and household cleaning products rose 10 per cent.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "Given the media focus around the outbreak of Covid-19 in February, it's unsurprising to see shoppers prudently protecting themselves from illness."

However, it was just part of an overall upward trend, with supermarket sales increasing by 0.7 per cent in the 12 weeks to February 23 - the fastest increase since November last year.

However, it was worse news for the bigger players, with Sainsbury's the only one of the large grocers to show a jump in year-on-year sales.

Spending there increased by 0.3 per cent, its first reported growth since October 2019, according to Kantar.

Mr McKevitt said: "Sainsbury's has performed well this period despite a challenging market, growing sales in its Sainsbury's Local convenience stores as well as online.

"It's worth noting, however, that continued pressure from the discount retailers meant the retailer still lost market share this month.

Tesco's sales dipped 0.8 per cent, while Asda was down 1.2 per cent, the survey said.

According to the data, Lidl was the place to go for couples, with its Valentine's Day-linked ranges increasing sales by 17 per cent.

It helped make the discount retailer the fastest-growing grocer in Britain for the first time since November 2017 with overall sales rising 11.4 per cent.

A total of 45 per cent of customers celebrated Valentine's Day, with almost a third of those giving chocolate, 22 per cent flowers, and 12 per cent some form of alcohol.

Aldi grew by 5.7 per cent, with its share of the market now at 7.9 per cent. Ocado continued double-digit growth at 10.8 per cent, and Iceland's sales rose 1.7 per cent.