Supermarkets are back on the booze - promotions, that is. And they're promoting ever harder, with 10.3% more offers than last month. James Ball reports

Bargain booze is back in supermarkets for summer. The number of promotions has rocketed this month, with cut-price alcohol deals leading the way.

The total number of featured-space promotions rose a hefty 10.3% month-on-month. Asda had by far the most substantial increase, with 20% more deals compared with last month, and more than 43% more than in the same period last year.

And because high-value alcohol overtook impulse as the most-promoted category, average savings and item value rose, particularly at Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

The lower average starting price for products on promotion at Asda and Morrisons suggest these retailers are following a slightly different strategy, with a stronger focus on promoting lower-ticket everyday items.

"Once again, the major multiples have squeezed even more promotions into key featured space areas in store in the past four weeks," said Assosia MD Kay Staniland.

There was also a refocusing on brands. "Branded activity has increased in each retailer since last month. In Waitrose the shift was much bigger: brands accounted for an additional 10% of offers."

The figures also showed how strongly Tesco has returned to promoting brands. While the other big four retailers have reduced the share of featured space given to brands, Tesco's is up substantially year-on-year, from 76% to 89% - a change in direction for the retailer that earlier this year was devoting featured promotional space to its Discounter tertiary range.

Branded deals continued to offer a higher average level of discount than own-label, especially at Morrisons, where own-label products were on average down 23%, while branded were reduced 32%.

The substantial increase in the number of promotions since last month has led every retailer but Waitrose to reduce its level of discounting, however.

This was most pronounced at Sainsbury's, where the average discount fell from 39.2% to 34.6%. This time last year, the average Sainsbury's featured-space promotion offered a 40% discount.