Retailers and confectionery suppliers have been shelling out on far fewer Easter promotions this year.

In a major turnaround for what is traditionally a heavily promoted market, the big five retailers ran 525 offers on Easter confectionery between 1 January and 12 March this year, down from 908 in the corresponding period last year, when Easter fell a week later [ 8 January to 19 March 2012].

Promotions have also become shallower, dropping from a typical saving of 33.2% in 2012 to 29% this year.

There has been a shift in the type of promotional mechanic being used, too, with this Easter bringing an increase in three-for offers - up from a 9.3% share of all Easter confectionery promotions last year to 16.6%.

Despite the sharp drop in the number and depth of deals, the average volume price of Easter confectionery has crept up less than 1%, from £25.12 a kilo last year to £25.29 now. This is a result of the base price of Easter confectionery (the price before promotional activity is factored in) being lower this year than in 2012, at £25.58 a kilo compared with £26.66 in 2012.

This helps explain the current appeal of chocolate novelties to the trade. One of the most innovative parts of the seasonal confectionery market confectioners and retailers have been keen to develop this category as it has risen in popularity.

That’s reflected in the figures. Last year the average kilo price of small Easter novelties (products weighing 35g or less) was £33.77, far higher than traditional eggs, and this year it has risen further to £36.27. Again there is evidence of price engineering, as the average unit price has remained static year-on-year, at 72p.

The margin opportunity offered by chocolate novelties is a key reason for retailers and suppliers shifting their focus and promotional spend away from traditional eggs, where the average unit price has fallen from £3.69 last year to £3.11 - a drop of 13.8%.

Wholesale prices: coldwater prawn prices soar

It is a mixed bag for fish prices. The biggest mover of late is coldwater prawns - prices have shot up 36.5% over the past month because the total allowable catch for 2013 has fallen 14% to 90,000 tonnes.

Haddock prices have moved the other way for the opposite reason. The EU and Norway have increased the North Sea haddock quota for 2013 by 15% sending prices falling just over 17% on last month.

There are several other notable movers. Farmed salmon prices are up 40.9% year-on-year, with prices continuing to increase, due to the rising cost of fish meal feed.

Sardine prices have also gone up sharply over the past year, rising over 30.8% due to weak supply in recent months. However, they did fall back 5.1% last month after catches improved somewhat.

Meanwhile, white fish prices tend to be falling in price. Whiting is down 28.2% year-on-year and plaice prices are down 6.5%.

But this isn’t necessarily good news for chocoholics as the price cut appears to have been driven by a reduction in pack size, with the average price per kilo for Easter eggs creeping up 1.6% year-on-year to £23.65.

In line with the rest of the Easter confectionery category, there has been a sharp drop in the number of promotions offered on Easter eggs, too - 423 this year against 758 in 2012.

Again, the depth of cut has fallen - from 34.2% last year to 29.7%.

But although the number of deals has fallen, even innovative NPD such as Cadbury’s Egg ‘n’ Spoon- an egg box containing spoons and four hollow eggs with a fondant filling - has been on promotion with at least one retailer since launching in January.

With an rsp of £3.99, the average selling price across the big four has been £2.97.