At first glance, it is business as usual on the promotional space of the nation’s supermarkets - but never judge a pallet by its cover.

Although the names on our table of the top 10 most-promoted brands are the same as last month - and this time last year - the mechanics being used on featured promotional space such as gondola ends and pallets are in flux.

In a continuation of a trend The Grocer reported on last month (‘Brands desert bogofs for half-price and multibuys’, 27 July), the bogof accounted for just 3% of featured space promotions in the four weeks to 21 August compared with 5.3% of deals a year ago.

Brands and retailers are making great use of x-for-y and half-price deals, which made up 34.3% and 20.8% of featured space offers respectively.

But even this trend can’t be taken at face value. While five of the top 10 brands did ramp up their use of x-for-y - with Cadbury using it for 52% of its deals compared with 32% a year ago - five brands are using the mechanic less than they were in 2012. Fox’s and Mars, in particular, recorded steep declines in x-for-y deals.

Wholesale fish prices ease at last

Most fish species remain more expensive than they were this time a year ago, although some prices have eased over the past four weeks.

Farmed salmon in Norway is still up by nearly 60% year on year, as cold weather has caused salmon growth rates to slow, limiting production. In addition, prices for fishmeal have increased, lending further support to salmon prices. High prices have depressed demand, leading prices to fall by 9.8% month on month.

Also in Norway, haddock prices are up 31.6% year on year because the quota for the Barents Sea has been reduced by 37% for 2013, resulting in tighter supplies. Meanwhile, mackerel prices in Spain have risen nearly 20% in the past year, because the season was slow to start and low stocks coupled with strong demand have driven up prices.

Norwegian cod (down 16.8%) and Thai skipjack tuna (15.3%) are the only fish in our tracker to get cheaper year on year.

Meanwhile, Mr Kipling and Walkers bucked the trend in half-price deals. The mechanic accounted for almost a fifth of Walkers’ promos a year ago, but it has abandoned the mechanic in the past four weeks.

And Coca-Cola is continuing to embrace the bogof, using it for 20% of its deals compared with just 10% a year ago.

There is little consistency in the mechanics used, but there is in promotional activity. The trend of huge year-on-year hikes in the number of promotions shows no sign of abating. Retailers ran 11,163 offers this month compared with 9,493 last year as they continued to try and woo consumers accustomed to buying on deal.

“Retailers and suppliers are being held to ransom by consumers,”said Kay Staniland, MD of retail analysts Assosia. “It will be interesting to see if anything can be done to get back to rsps meaning that, and promotions being something special rather than everyday.”