It's all change in the top 10 rankings for featured space promotions, with L'Oréal and Kellogg's pushing up their spends. James Ball reports

The names may have changed, but the level of promotion remains as high as ever.

As fmcgs prepare for summer, seasonal snacks and suntan lotions are challenging frozen foods and chocolate confectionery lines for featured space, according to our Promo Dynamic rankings. And in the Top 10, only Cadbury is in the same position as last month.

But overall promotional spend across all grocery categories remains high, up 0.7% on last month and 5.1% higher than at this time last year.

Kellogg's, Mr Kipling and L'Oréal made the biggest moves month-on-month, entering the top 10 from 16th, 25th and 26th last month respectively. Mr Kipling upped its promotional activity by 60%, while Kellogg's has more than doubled since May.

"The continued promise of a great summer and a couple of sunny weekends (in among the rainy ones) have persuaded Kellogg's and L'Oréal to increase their promotional activity over the past four weeks," said Kay Staniland, managing director of promotional consultancy Assosia.

"Grabbing consumer spend at the start of a good weather period is key. Cereals with cold milk, cereal bars and pampering products along with fake tan and suntan lotions will certainly benefit, but only if the timing is right."

In contrast, confectioners Cadbury and Nestlé have let their promotional spending slide, while Birds Eye showed the largest month-on-month shift, cutting its promotions by 25%.

But there's unlikely to be a summer of love between the retailers and promoting brands. Manufacturers, particularly those producing alcoholic drinks, have complained over retailers' decisions to increase the number of short-notice promotional slots.

Allocating slots at short notice allows retailers to be more responsive to the UK's unpredictable weather, and so use the space efficiently come rain or shine. It also improves cashflow.

However, manufacturers often face difficulties supplying stock for offers at short notice. Last month, some complained that supermarkets were running "stockless stocks" on key grocery items (The Grocer, 30 May, p4).

"It looks as if the Met Office may become indirectly responsible for some added conflict between retailers and manufacturers this year," said Staniland.

"The big four are geared up to react quickly to external factors. We will see more 'reactive' promotional activity through the summer."