Year-on-year, the number of deals offered by the supermarkets is up by nearly 20%, with Heinz and Kellogg’s more than doubling their deals. Vince Bamford reports

It’s not unusual to see a rise in promotions as the festive season draws near - but the increase seen in the past four weeks is far beyond the traditional seasonal spike.

The surge in featured space promos recorded last month has accelerated. Brand price-matching in its various forms has brought with it a 19.1% year-on-year hike in the total number of deals offered on supermarket pallets and gondola ends in the four weeks ending 4 December [Assosia].

And branded products are undoubtedly driving the growth, with the total number of deals on brands soaring from the 6,605 recorded in the same four weeks last year to 8,362 - an increase of 1,557. By comparison, the number of own-label offers crept up by just 24.

For some brands, the number of deals has more than doubled year-on-year, with Heinz offers up from 61 in November 2010 to 136 this year, and Kellogg’s up from 50 to 120. Of the top 10 most-promoted brands, only three ran fewer offers last month than in 2010.

“With brand matching being key for so many retailers at the moment, they are doing all they can to make such offers visible - even retailers such as Waitrose, which perhaps wouldn’t have done so in the past,” said Assosia MD Kay Staniland.

And the need to make offers on key brands so prominent in-store has brought with it a delay in traditional festive goods making it into featured promotional space. “We would have expected to see more Christmas puds and jars of pickle on gondola ends by now,” said Staniland. “They will get there but it is taking longer than usual.”

Even confectionery has failed to secure as much space as last year, despite increased activity by Cadbury and Mars month-on-month. Last year, confectionery deals accounted for 15.3% of all featured space promos but this has dropped to 11.2% this year.

Retailers’ desire to be seen as offering the best value has also had an effect on the promotional mechanics used, with Assosia recording an increase in ‘special purchase’ offers.

“We are seeing more promotions that simply state a price rather than show a previous price or how much a shopper has saved,” said Staniland.

Although branded deals have soared in number, the average saving offered on brands is virtually static, while the typical saving on own-label lines is up from 22% in November 2010 to 26.7% this year.