The run of hot weather allowed retailers to capitalise on higher-value summer promotions, with fruit and barbecue lines prominent, says James Ball

Summertime, and promoting is easy: there are plenty of deals to come by for shoppers, and until this week, they have been easy to plan for retailers, too.

The long run of hot, sunny weather allowed retailers to exploit traditional summer categories in a way they've been unable to for three years - and a policy of keeping featured space back for short-term allocation has reaped dividends by letting retailers pick deals capitalising on the sun.

Fresh fruit has rocketed to the top of own-label deals, with more than 200 offers, while the barbecue weather has led to more than 250 meat, poultry and game deals in featured space.

The balmy weather has also propelled wine deals back to the top of the tables. More than one in 10 promotions this month were on wine, which had a total of 753 deals.

Soft drinks fans and beer drinkers weren't left behind, with these second and third-placed categories racking up 379 and 288 deals respectively.

The push towards seasonal categories shifted the promotional mix substantially compared with last month and the plethora of high-value meat and alcohol offers pushed average starting prices much higher. Savings generally didn't quite follow suit - at every retailer bar Asda, savings this month were smaller than in the previous period, and at Asda grew only 0.1 percentage point. Similarly, the shift in emphasis to fresh, summer foods proved a boost for own label.

"The brand vs own label ratio has increased for own label again this month," said Assosia MD Kay Staniland. "But this can in large part be due to the categories that own label dominates - fresh fruit & vegetables, meat and poultry all taking an increasing share of featured space promotions. It doesn't necessarily mark any significant shift in tactics."

So far, retailers have proved themselves able to shift their promotional offer very quickly to suit a scorching summer. But with rain now battering the nation, they'll have to shift the product mix fast if their good run is to continue - or pray for more sunny weather.