Research has found that over half the goods in British shops are sold as part of a promotional offer.
The recurrent use of deals could harm supermarkets and major retailers in the long-term as discerning consumers come to expect them and the ‘special’ part of the offer is rendered, well, invalid.
The warning was issued by market researcher IRI, which found that 55% of goods sold to UK shoppers were part of promotions such as multi-buys or two-for-one offers.
That’s four times as much as in German stores and over twice that of retailers in Spain and France.
"If the UK's particular reliance on promotional activity continues, it will signify a worrisome pattern of behaviour has emerged," said IRI.
"Manufacturers could find it hard to recover, since such high levels of promotional activity will become further ingrained into the psyche of shoppers.They will need to work exceedingly hard to re-educate consumers about having a more sustainable balance between promotion and standard prices."
Richard Lloyd, Executive Director at consumer group Which? urged retailers to only advertise specials when they genuinely offer a notable saving to consumers.
"Shopping for your weekly groceries can feel like tackling an obstacle course, and more than 210,000 consumers have told us how frustrating they find misleading pricing practices," he said.
"It is now time for retailers to play fair and make sure that their special offers really are special."