All the big multiples increased their year-on-year adspend in the run-up to last Christmas, except Morrisons, which cut its spend by more than 29%.
However, the latter posted the greatest increase in market share, due, in part, to money-off voucher promotions. Retail analysts believe that one promotion offering customers a £20-off voucher when they spent more than £40 in three consecutive weeks was instrumental in generating its record Christmas sales.
According to insiders, Waitrose is also due to put coupons at the heart of its 2009 marketing strategy following a successful discount voucher promotion before Christmas. It is already offering money-off vouchers to customers who have recently reduced their regular spend at Waitrose.
'Coupons are used more during a recession. Retailers and brands see them as a cheap tactical solution to change consumer behaviour but not cause long-term brand damage,' said an Institute of Sales Promotion spokesman.
Voucher websites are the fastest-growing area of internet retail. Hitwise's UK research director, Robin Goad, said that one in every 200 visits to an online retail site now comes from a voucher site. 'Tesco voucher codes' was the top online search for voucher codes last month.