Morrisons has been left as clear leader in the promotional stakes, as Asda finally starts to scale back its activity. Ronan Hegarty reports

It has been more than a year since Asda pledged to rid itself of the promotional millstone hanging around its neck and now it seems it is to finally be making good on that promise.

For the four weeks to 27 February, Asda was the only one of the big supermarket chains to ­reduce its offers.

With 1,638 deals, Asda had 10.8% fewer offers over the past four weeks compared with the amount it had in January.

It still has a way to go, however, if it truly wants to return to its principles as an Every Day Low Pricing retailer. Despite the month-on-month fall, Asda was still offering 10.3% more deals than it was this time a year ago.

The spike in January also serves to highlight the level of price cutting and promotions that it felt was needed to launch its 10% Price Guarantee.

Unsurprisingly Tesco, which this week started its fightback against Asda with a fresh round of cuts and a price promise of its own, has been particularly active in the ­promotional game.

Tesco saw the biggest month-on-month increase in deals. With 1,392, it was still a long way behind its big four rivals, but this figure was 17.4% higher than it was in January.

With Asda cutting back on deals Morrisons has been left as the clear leader in the promotional stakes. In January Morrisons had just seven more deals in featured space but its total of 2,134 during February was a massive 481 ahead of its nearest rival, which this time was Sainsbury’s with 1,653.

Morrisons continues to press ahead with its clear, promotion-driven strategy. It had 15.8% more deals than in January and 18.5% more than in the same period a year ago.

While Sainsbury’s total number of deals was 5.3% down on a year ago, it was 10.6% up on January. Waitrose, meanwhile, had 765 deals, up 5.2% on the previous month and 4.5% on the year ­before.

With the period covering Valentine’s Day and with Easter looming on the horizon, impulse was the most promoted category, making up 18% of all deals across the supermarkets during February. However this was a significantly smaller share than last year when impulse deals accounted for 20.5% of the total.

The alcohol category grabbed a bigger share of the promotional ­activity. Beers, wines and spirits ­accounted for 16.3% of deals over the past month compared with 15.9% a year ago. This was followed by ­grocery, which had a 15.3% share.