Supermarket shoppers looking for the record-breaking money-off deals they've read about in the papers are set for a shock, The Grocer can reveal, as new data shows this year's deals offer a smaller saving than 2008.

Of the big four supermarkets, only Morrisons has increased the average saving in the last four weeks [Assosia 4w/e 20 November], and outgoing Morrisons CEO Marc Bolland told analysts: "Christmas will be fun for customers. There's growing consumer confidence and we expect this to continue through Christmas in a positive way."

But retailers aren't doing as much as some believe to make the season bright for shoppers.

The problem isn't a shortage of offers. There are already thousands of extra deals packing supermarket power aisles and gondola ends. Research for The Grocer by Assosia counted more than 8,300 deals on supermarket shelves this month, up 23% on this time last year.

However, the average saving has fallen 5% since this time last year. While cleaning fanatics and chicken nugget fans should be quids in average savings on household cleaning products were up 51% year-on-year, and frozen savings were 12% higher offers in bakery were 19% less generous than last year, savings on produce were down 21%, and the typical discount on fresh meat and poultry was 35% less than last year.

Even deals on alcohol are lower, down 5.8%.

"So far, consumers have more featured-space deals to choose from than ever before but it's not true that the savings on offer are the biggest ever," said Assosia MD Kay Staniland. "The price of having lots of offers is often a reduction in money-off, and this Christmas looks like no exception: at three of the big four, savings aren't as big as last year, and in some categories savings are more than a third less generous than last year. This reduction is particularly tough in meat and poultry bad news for people buying roasts in the run-up to Christmas."

Of the big four, Tesco offered the biggest saving (33.4%), but it represents a 4.1% decrease on the amount saved last year. Asda offered the lowest saving, with average savings falling 8.4%, from 31.1% in 2008 to 28.5% this year. The biggest decrease in savings was found at Sainsbury's.

The big four declined to comment.