There has been a sharp increase in the number of featured space promotions across the top five over the past month.

Tesco has found room for a 426 month-on-month increase, almost matched by Sainsbury’s, which squeezed in 383 more taking its total 2,482 - higher than anyone else’s [Assosia 4 w/e 7 October 2012]. The uplift ran well into double figures for everyone. Indeed, the most modest rise was 12.1% at Asda.

All this activity has pushed the total number of deals up from 9,176 in August to 10,697 in September - the sort of level usually seen in the run-up to Christmas.

A key reason for the hike has been a drop in the number of single brands being allowed to ‘block-book’ featured space.

Looking at the longer game, the retailers are also all running more offers than a year ago - when the total number was 9,137. The most striking example is Sainsbury’s, which is running just shy of 500 more deals than it ran in the same period in 2011.

Wholesale prices: eggs & dairy

Unsurprisingly, all egg prices in this week’s table are up significantly year-on-year as the effect of the battery egg cage ban and the subsequent shortage of eggs earlier this year continues to play out.

What’s more surprising is the fact that EU shell eggs are up 20% month-on-month, to £1,033.9/t, and thus account for almost half the 41.6% increase over the past year. The increase has been caused by lower chicken numbers in Europe and high feed costs. By contrast, UK shell egg prices show no movement on last month, at £1,350.6/t, because of higher chicken numbers, whereas they are up 28.8% year-on-year.

Dairy commodity prices are also beginning to climb as the impact of higher production costs and tightening supply start to filter through. Five of the six dairy products in the table are showing a month-on-month increase, though the price of UK milk is flat on last month, at £252.9/t.

While the number of deals has increased across the board, the picture is more mixed when it comes to the depth of promotions. Asda and Morrisons are offering greater savings than a year ago - with the typical saving at Morrisons now 37.8% compared with 33.6% in 2011 - while their rivals have reduced their average depth of deal.

With the exception of Asda, all the retailers have increased the proportion of own-label deals they offer compared with brands, and own label now accounts for 30% of Sainsbury’s featured space promotions.

This shift in ratio has been driven to a certain extent by a widespread rise in the number of fresh produce and meat, fish & poultry deals.

In terms of promotional mechanics, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have all increased the number of straight money-off deals they run year-on-year. They now represent 51.7% of all Waitrose promotions - putting it just behind Asda which, at 52.4%, runs the greatest proportion of such offers despite reducing its use of them over the past year. Asda has instead put greater emphasis on x-for-y promotions - in the past four weeks, they represented two-fifths of the retailer’s deals, twice the proportion they did a year ago.