Supermarket promotions have hit their lowest level for 11 years as grocery retailers increase their focus on everyday low prices.

Just over a quarter of the money spent in British supermarkets during the four weeks to March 25 went on products that were either discounted or part of multi-buy offers, according to the latest industry data from Nielsen.

The 26% proportion of goods bought on promotion marked the lowest level since 2006.

Despite the move to everyday low prices, food price inflation crept up 2.3% according to rival data from Kantar Worldpanel. 

Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said rising prices cost the average household an additional £21.31 during the 12 weeks to March 26.

Nielsen said the move away from promotions in favour of investment into regular, lower prices were occurring “much faster” in the grocers’ own-label ranges.

Over the past year, just 18% of the supermarkets’ private label sales were made on promotion, compared to 41% of branded goods.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said: “To be more price-competitive, supermarkets have turned temporary price reductions into permanent cuts, so there’s less promotional activity as many prices are cheaper all year round.”

Supermarket sales

Nielsen said overall takings at supermarket tills fell 2.6% in the four weeks to March 25, negatively impacted by the later timing of Easter.

Across a wider 12-week period to March 25, Morrisons was the only member of the big four to grow sales, registering a 0.6% uplift year-on-year.

Tesco was the next best performing retailer among the leading pack, although it suffered a 1.1% drop in sales compared to the same period last year.

Sainsbury’s and Asda’s sales fell 1.7% and 3% respectively.

Iceland was the best performing grocer outside of the discounters, recording a 5.2% jump.

But its growth was dwarfed by Aldi and Lidl, who enjoyed sales spikes of 12.6% and 10.5%.

Kantar said both Lidl and Aldi reached new record high market shares and now collectively account for 11.7% of the grocery market.

It measured Lidl’s sales growth as 15% for the period, making it the fastest-growing retailer.

Kantar said Aldi also grew sales by 14.3% following an ongoing programme of store openings by both retailers.

According to Kantar, total supermarket sales by value increased by 1.4% in the 12 weeks. It also attributed slower growth to Easter falling outside the period.