A month or so ago, retailers were cramming every part of their stores with deals.

The festive period had brought with it a promotional frenzy that saw retailers moving fixtures to create new promotional space. In one four-week period over Christmas the number of promotions broke the 10,000 barrier, making the 8,573 in the four weeks to 5 February seem modest by comparison.

But a glance at the year-on-year figures shows activity remains way ahead of the same period 12 months ago, when the total number of deals was 7,782.

As The Grocer has reported previously, Tesco’s Big Price Drop - and brand price matching in its various forms - has driven the increase in activity. The number of own-label deals has fallen 9.5% year-on-year as retailers vie to be seen offering the best value on big-name products, with deals on brands up 14.3% year-on-year.

And, after a stable few months in terms of brands running the greatest number of promotions, the past four weeks has brought a shake-up in the suppliers in our top-10 table.

Wholesale prices: dry ingredients
Ingredients markets have faced some extraordinary price hikes over the past 12 months.

Bad weather and poor harvests sent peanut prices skyward in 2011. Although the rate of increase has started to slow, prices remain high - they are up 85.5% year-on-year and expected to stay firm until the next round of harvesting in the second half of the year.

In pepper markets, concerns about production shortfalls are pushing up prices, with black pepper up 50.9% year-on-year at £4,799. Prices are expected to stay high in 2012 as supply demand continues to exceed supply. Indian production is forecast to be lower this year than in 2011 - and unfavourable weather in Vietnam is a threat.

Meanwhile, a smaller-than-expected hazelnut harvest in Turkey has caused prices to soar nearly 40%, although the market ha started to stabilise following the Turkish Grain Board’s announcement last month it would sell some of its stocks at below market prices.

The traditional post-Christmas health drive has brought hikes in activity for WeightWatchers and Müller, with WeightWatchers running almost twice as many deals as this time last year. Dettol has also rocketed up the chart, with four times the offers it ran a year ago as owner Reckitt Benckiser kicked off its Britain’s Greatest Clean Up campaign.

Some categories, however, have seen a much lower uplift in activity. While frozen brand Young’s ran a third more deals than last month, this was only 6% up on last year.

“Frozen featured space is limited compared with ambient and chilled - retailers can’t just add freezers - so activity on frozen products is limited,” said Assosia MD Kay Staniland. As competition for space across the entire store increases, some retailers are also upping their demands, she adds: “We are aware of some asking for more money for gondola ends.”

In terms of mechanics, the past four weeks has brought a shift in favour of half-price deals, with its share of all promotions up 8.1 percentage points year-on-year to 32.4% as bogof, save and x-for-y were used less frequently.