Many brands have reduced the number of promotions in the past month as Halloween and Bonfire Night make way for Christmas, writes Alex Beckett

Despite big confectionery names almost doubling their deals over the past four weeks, the fallout from Halloween and Bonfire Night promotions coming to an end means branded activity has slumped month-on-month.

The 1.7% fall in branded promotions came despite Cadbury and Mars increasing the number of deals they ran by a hefty 94.6% and 91.7% respectively month-on-month [Assosia]. The number of own-label deals soared nearly 20% over the same period, although at 26.7%, the saving offered was 0.1 percentage point less than last month, while the saving on branded goods was 0.6 percentage points more at 33.5%.

Overall, the total number of promotions has risen just 1.4% over the past four weeks a marked slowdown on the 7% hike recorded over the previous month.

The lull was the result of Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night deals coming to an end, said Assosia MD Kay Staniland.

"The supermarkets went absolutely mad with Halloween and Bonfire Night this year and devoted large spaces to brand deals," she said. "We are now seeing the fallout of this."

Big names such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and McVitie's have reduced their promotions significantly over the past month, making way for deals on premium own-label food items. They would increase activity before the Christmas shopping rush kicks off, she predicted.

"Another reason there are fewer deals on the brands at the moment is because they are getting their ducks in a row preparing to launch limited-edition festive packs, for example," she added. "But they will be back on big deals in the next couple of weeks."

Own-label hadn't just taken advantage of the dearth of branded deals to increase their promotions, said Aidan Bocci, CEO of consultancy Commercial Advantage. The uplift in own-label deals was also down to retailers responding to the gloomy economic climate.

"The multiples are promoting own-label heavily at the moment to project a value image," he said. "This is particularly prevalent now, as consumers are incredibly price sensitive in the run-up to Christmas. All the doom and gloom in the economy is making consumer buying habits very unpredictable and is causing retailers to commit to widespread deals on own-label."

Year-on-year, the biggest rise in deals was from Birds Eye with the bulk of its activity coming on seasonal winter dishes such as pies and prepared roast dinners.