The big four multiples have talked up their own-label ranges but focused their promotional efforts on the brands. James Ball reports

Sainsbury's may be continuing to push its own-label range by persuading its consumers to Switch and Save, but it is concentrating its promotional efforts on branded products.

The retailer, which posted strong first-half results this week, is not alone, either: all the five major retailers have shifted their promotional offer heavily towards brands year-on-year, according to this month's Promo Dynamic.

Brands traditionally dominate featured space as retailers charge brand owners for the prominent front-of-store and aisle-end slots. For a time last year, though, this changed as own label grew to more than 25% of featured space in Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Waitrose.

Now all the retailers have switched back to brands most dramatically at Morrisons, which went from having the lowest share of branded promotions last year, at 73%, to the highest this year at 91%.

Assosia MD Kay Staniland said the shift towards brands was related to cost-saving measures at the major retailers.

"Selling featured space is a good source of income for the big retailers, and retailers have also encouraged branded suppliers to fund a lot of activity," she said. "Own-label promotions are comparitively expensive for retailers, so it's perhaps not surprising to see brands dominate promotional activity once more."

The increase of branded offers is not pushing totals up a great deal in three of the five retailers, promotional activity fell month-on-month, especially at Morrisons, where the number of deals fell 10.3%. This was not, however, enough to knock Morrisons off the top spot. Asda saw the largest monthly increase, at 8%.

Sainsbury's was the only retailer with fewer offers year-on-year, its 1,757 deals representing a 7.4% drop since last October. Despite this, it was still the second-ranking retailer for the number of offers.

Drinks deals under threat again from Conservative proposals continued to dominate, making up a massive one in four of all branded offers. Meat and poultry was the top own-label category.