The price of staple foods at the big four is increasing as supermarkets focus on Christmas promotions. While the number of promotions on branded goods increased by 40.2% year-on-year, a basket of basic items, taken predominantly from the supermarkets’ budget ranges, had increased in price by 8% at Tesco and 5% at Asda since October, when the drive towards credit-crunch promotions was at its peak [tracked for The Grocer by ESA]. Prices at Morrisons rose 1%, and stayed flat at Sainsbury's.

The price of baked beans now average 29p, up 61% from 18p in October. Budget white bread, which fell as low as 30p, is now up 36.7% to 41p. Digestive biscuits rose 9% from an average of 32p to 35p. “At this point in the year, many consumers actually trade up. Hence the focus of promotions as we approach Christmas will be on the branded items,” said ESA chief executive Adam Donaldson.

“This may explain why across some value lines the price in Tesco and Asda has crept up, while in a broader basket with heavily promoted branded items, the basket price has not increased.” The change in focus is reflected in Tesco’s removal of its Discounter range from the ‘power aisle’ in most stores, returning them to regular shelf space.

A spokeswoman said Tesco was currently reviewing whether they would return to high-profile space.