Retailers have dropped Baileys as their weapon of choice in the annual Christmas drinks discounting war.

In the run-up to Christmas 2006 the Diageo-owned brand retained a price of £12.50 per litre for the whole period - amounting to £2.66 per litre more than the previous year - with all supermarkets offering the same two-for-£25 deal.

Prior to Christmas 2005 the cream liqueur brand had dropped below the £10 per one-litre bottle mark a week earlier than it did the previous year, reaching a low of £9.84 in Asda. The lowest price recorded in The Grocer's research for 2004 was £9.88 per litre.

"Last Christmas, retailers were driving a single bottle price, but for 2006 they are driving a trade-up mechanic of buy two for £25," Andy Adams, Diageo's trading director said last month. "We can't influence the retail price but the promotional mechanic they are supporting should drive great sales."

InBev UK's Stella Artois, however, plummeted to its lowest festive price yet in November. The 11p per 100ml deal in Morrisons remained the most competitive for the brand throughout December, with little change in price in any rival retailer.

Last year, in comparison, prices for Stella were holding up and the average price was 14p per 100ml.

Stuart MacFarlane, InBev's MD for take-home, acknowledged that retailers operated in a competitive environment and discounted brands to drive footfall over the festive season. Other brewers were more outspoken.

"We continue to despair at the level of value taken out of the category at times of peak demand," said Mark Gerken, Scottish & Newcastle UK's off-trade sales MD, in the run-up to Christmas.

In most retailers festive deals on alcohol brands are due to end next week.

Data for 2006 indicated that Christmas booze bargains came in earlier than in previous years, with many deals registered by mid-November, compared to mid-December last year.