Cadbury has upped its promotional spend a whopping 102% since last month as the festive push gets well and truly underway. James Ball reports

The Christmas season seems to start earlier every year. But some brands have been quicker than others to capitalise on the fact that their products were on shelf before Hallowe'en was over.

Of those who have got their festive promotional campaigns well and truly under way over the past month, Cadbury stands head and shoulders above the rest. It has ramped up the number of its featured space deals by a massive 102% since last month taking its total to more than twice that of nearest rival Nestlé [Assosia 4w/e 20 November].

The uplift is more remarkable still given that the confectionery giant had already stepped on the promotional gas ahead of Hallowe'en, said Assosia MD Kay Staniland.

Nestlé, the second-largest promoter this month, was also pushing its Christmas ranges, but increased its deals just 3.1% month-on-month, while Mars jumped from ninth place to fifth as it upped its deals 50% to 117.

Despite this concerted push in confectionery, the beer, wines and spirits category retained the promotional top spot, as once again supermarkets upped their drinks deals in a bid to secure bumper Christmas sales.

Drinks deals made up 26.1% of all featured promotions this month perhaps not surprisingly, as AB InBev UK president Stuart MacFarlane this week told The Grocer two thirds of beer category sales were made on promotion.

Confectionery and impulse lagged just behind with 25.1% of deals, meaning that between them the top two promoting categories made up more than half of all supermarket featured space deals news not likely to be welcomed by healthy-eating campaigners, especially as fresh produce and fresh meat offers collectively made up fewer than 1% of all this month's featured space deals.

In most categories, there has been a slight fall in promotional activity this month as retailers prepare to refocus their featured space on Christmas. Four of the top 10 promoters cut deals month-on-month, and the total number of deals has fallen slightly since October though it was more than 20% up year-on-year.

Supermarkets appear braced for a budget Christmas, as money-off deals return to a level of dominance not seen since the early days of the price war. Money-off deals made up 42% of all promotions, up from 29% last month. Half-price deals fell from 17% of the total to just 13%, while bogofs dropped to under 9% of all deals.