Asda has been hitting the bottle in a big way over the past month. While Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco all ran fewer featured space promotions during the four weeks to 15 April than they did last year, Asda ramped up its deals by 10.2% month-on-month and 26.6% year-on-year.

Much of that increase was down to promotions on alcoholic, especially wine. Asda has more than tripled its wine promotions year-on-year, while other retailers are down or on a par with previous years.

Asda also went against the tide on mechanics - 42.3% of its wine deals were multibuys, including aggressive three-for-£10 deals. Other retailers more typically opted for discounts on single bottles. Just 9.7% of wine deals in Tesco were multibuys, 0.9% in Morrisons and none in Sainsbury’s.

Part of the reason Asda’s deal numbers have risen so dramatically is because it has moved away from its previous strategy of promoting single products heavily on gondola ends to concurrent deals on a broader range of lines. In the past four weeks, Asda has run 1,992 deals compared with 1,574 in the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, promotions in the rest of the big four fell sharply compared with last year - deals in Morrisons were down 19.1% year-on-year, with Sainsbury’s down 15.9% and Tesco down 12.2%. These drops are largely down to an earlier Easter whereas last year’s four-week period included all of Easter, this year’s period covers just the end of the holiday.

Tesco recently said it was perceived as being in third place or below with promotions. This month if offered 1,334 deals while Asda had 1,995, Morrisons 1,620 and Sainsbury’s 1,778. But in depth of cuts, Tesco remains one of the most generous retailers, offering an average saving of 37.6% compared with Asda’s 27%.

Tesco has also worked hard to make deals more appealing to cash-strapped shoppers - it has slashed bogofs, which now account for just 6.4% of all deals compared with 26.1% last year, and more than trebled half-price deals, now 41.5% of all Tesco promotions. This nudges Tesco just ahead of Morrisons, which has long led the pack on half-price deals, and well above the industry average of 23.3%.

Commodity prices

Severe floods in Ecuador continue to disrupt banana production and supply, sending prices up. At £985/t, bananas are now 20.1% more expensive than last year and have risen 3.1% in the past month.

The situation in Ecuador has been compounded by unusually cold weather in the Caribbean, especially in the Dominican Republic, leading to delays in fruit maturation, as well as production issues in Colombia and Costa Rica. Buyers are now bracing themselves for banana prices to stay high over the coming months.

Potato prices have been sluggish in recent months, but the market has staged something of a recovery in the past month, when prices moved up by nearly 10% to £124.5/t, possibly in response to growing concerns about the impact of drought on this year’s crop. However, prices remain sharply down year-on-year - they are currently 32.4% lower than this time last year.