Every commentator is predicting turbulent economic times in 2009. What happens at international and national level will affect your business, and our sector will not avoid the pressures on rising costs and credit problems affecting the economy as a whole. However, recession does not necessarily mean declining sales for the c-store operator.

2009 will also be a frenetic one politically. As the year develops politicians will be more and more focused on a likely election in 2010, and this means new policy announcements - some good and some bad. Here are some key areas that will affect you:

Tax policy - the government is seeking to kick-start growth in the economy. Taxation will be keenly debated, with politicians arguing over how best to support businesses. This may mean short-term cuts, but also big tax increases in the long term.

l Employment - as employers start to feel the pressure of a recession, increases in employment costs, including national minimum wage, holiday entitlements and pension contributions, will be keenly scrutinised. We should expect a more conservative approach to increased costs, if not a reversal of past increases.

Alcohol - in 2009 there will be pressure to bring in tougher rules on how retailers train their staff and the procedures used to prevent underage sales. Tougher sanctions for making underage sales, including an increase in licence revocations, is likely.

Other areas that will be affected include reducing carbon emissions and tackling waste; implementation of recommendations of the Competition Commission investigation into the grocery market; and decisions on further tobacco restrictions.

ACS will be focused on making the voice of retailers heard, in particular helping retailers to speak up for themselves in campaigns and on local issues. In 2009 this will be more important than ever.