The number of promotions rose over the Easter period and levels could stay high in the run up to the general election. Ronan Hegarty reports

Much has been made in the press this week of retailers ramping up the number of deals to target consumers wracked with uncertainty about the economy in the run-up to the general election and looking at the latest four-week data for the major multiples, the theory appears to have some merit.

Of the major supermarkets, only Tesco reduced its total number of deals in March, by 3.4% on February and 6.3% year-on-year.

And it seems Asda's much-publicised switch from a promotions-led strategy to its traditional Every Day Low Price roots has yet to begin, with the data showing no evidence of a decrease in promotions.

In fact, Asda increased the number of promotions it offered in March by 3.4% on the previous month and a whopping 28.9% on last year.

Back in February, Asda hailed promotions as "weapons of mass distraction" and said it was going to take the money that was traditionally invested in deals and redirect it towards reducing the base price of products.

Asda is offering considerably fewer deals than Morrisons and Sainsbury's, which last month reaffirmed its commitment to increasing the number of offers in store. But with 1,540 deals, Asda is effectively matching Tesco, which had 1,557 last month. That said, Asda is offering a smaller saving per promotion than the other retailers and it slimmed this down even more last month. Its average saving in March was £1.28, at least 30p less than at rivals. This represented a reduction on February's £1.35 and the £1.48 offered this time last year.

The retailers in general are favouring a straight-savings mechanic, rather than two-fors or bogofs. Straight money-off deals accounted for 37.9% of all deals in March, compared with 33.2% the previous year. Deals such as two-for-£2 made up 30.2% of the mix compared with 34.8% last year.

The retailers were clearly fighting hard to capture shoppers' Easter spend, with deals on beers, wines and spirits taking up to 16.6% of all offers, compared with 15% last year. There were also more deals this year on meat, fish and poultry, dry grocery and frozen.