For months, retailers have been dedicating prime display areas to non-promotional activity to capitalise on this year’s big-ticket events. But even before the Paralympics, this space was being reclaimed with a vengeance by big promotions.

Collectively, the mults ran 776 (9.2%) more promotions in the four weeks to 2 September than they did in the previous month [Assosia].

Tesco showed the greatest swing, boosting its promotions 18.2% month-on-month to 2,124 - to leapfrog Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda and post the highest number of deals of the past month.

The jump also represented a 23.6% uplift on the number of deals it ran this time last year. However, the average saving it offered dipped slightly both on a year-on-year and month-on-month basis, to 33.1%.

Paralympic sponsor Sainsbury’s was hot on Tesco’s heels, having hiked its offers 10.9% to 2,103 deals. Asda, which led the pack last month, was not far behind, a 6.3% rise bringing its total to 2,019.

Wholesale prices 8 September 2012: Ingredients

Hazelnut prices have fallen somewhat recently as buyers anticipate a good harvest for the 2012/13 season.

However, while the market is waiting for the new crop to arrive, prices remain up on last year as current stocks are limited.

At £4,897/tonne, hazelnuts are down 2.7% on last month but are 16% more expensive than last year.

After record prices in 2011, peanut prices have also been falling recently - they are down 2.8% month-on-month - as key producing areas in the US are forecasting record crops despite the recent drought.

By contrast, drought in Eastern Europe has dramatically reduced honey production in countries such as Romania and contributed to prices going up.

At £2,208/tonne, honey has become 8.2% more expensive in the past month, although it remains slightly cheaper compared with this time last year, down 0.8%.

And with Asda opening some Santa’s grottos before kids had even gone back to school, Assosia MD Kay Staniland predicts “a record number of promotions in coming months.”

The price cut mechanic continued to dominate - all retailers used a ‘save’ amount as their primary mechanic, apart from Morrisons, which went further and used ‘half price’ the most.

Curiously, it was EDLP advocate Asda that veered the most from price-cut promos and offered the highest proportion of x-for-y multibuys.

In February, COO Judith McKenna said shoppers were shunning bulk-buy deals and sticking to their budgets, citing the 1.3 million single cans of tomatoes it had shifted for 50p over Christmas compared with 1 million £2 four-packs the year before. But the tide could be turning. Two in five deals Asda ran last month were multibuys.

Morrisons massively deepened its savings on own-label products, with the average depth of cut doubling to 43.1%. It was particularly generous with own-label chilled dairy and frozen products, offering an average saving of 50%.

The mults also ran more deals on fresh produce, with all bar Asda increasing the number of promotions in this category.