Retailers deliberating about which areas to concentrate on in 2009 need look no further than C-Store's latest product survey.

With 36% of the votes, alcohol is undoubtedly seen as the area expected to perform best in 2009, followed by tobacco (21%) and confectionery (17%).

Alcohol was also voted best performer of 2008 by a third (33%) of retailers, with tobacco coming second (23%) and confectionery third (19%). This is in stark contrast to last year's survey where confectionery was top dog with 25% of votes, when just 22% of retailers voted for alcohol as their best category.

This year's survey also revealed that a worrying 34% of retailers did not find sales reps helpful.

A selection of retailers gave us their views on the findings.

1. What was your best performing product category last year?

Alcohol 33

Tobacco 23

Confectionery 19

News & mags 7

Grocery 6

Your say: "Alcohol should do well because the tobacco ban

in pubs is leading people towards drinking at home."

Ken Banfield

Embankment Stores, Wellingborough

2. Which category do you expect to do best this year?

Alcohol 36

Tobacco 21

Confectionery 17

News & mags 5

Grocery 4

Energy & soft drinks 3

Food-to-go 2

Other 10

Your say: "This doesn't surprise me at all because people are drowning their sorrows due to the current recession!"

Derek Gillpin

Post Office and Store, Cumbria

3. Which product areas will you be dedicating more space to this year?

None 67

Alcohol 12

Chilled/food to go 4

Grocery 4

Greetings cards 2

Confectionery 2

Other 9

4. Which product areas will you be dedicating less space to this year?

None 78

Grocery 7

Not sure 3

Other 12

5. What is the

main thing that wholesalers and manufacturers could be doing to help you?

Improve price promos72

Decent margins8

Pricemark products5

Extend credit3

Smaller pack sizes3


Offer more products2


Your say: "Our main priority is to get people in the store and price promotions do the trick, so it makes sense that they would be top of the list."

Vicky Tomlin Mace, Bradford on Avon

6. What type of product promotion do you think will be the most effective this year?

Price cuts59



Pricemarked goods3



7. Which supplier's representative has been the most helpful?

None 34

Cadbury 16

Pepsico (Walkers) 9

Mars 9

JTI (Gallaher) 5

Imperial Tobacco 4

Coca-Cola 2

Other 11

Unsure 10

"I'm not shocked by these results as Cadbury and Coca-Cola are in far more often than other representatives. But I find it odd that over a third of retailers didn't find anyone helpful - maybe they don't have many reps visiting."

Gary Yeomans

Spar/Tates, Nottingham
retailer opinion
"Alcohol is definitely the frontrunner in my store. In the current climate, people are saving money by entertaining at home instead of going to the pub.

"We have just added another 4 metres of shelf space to our alcohol section. We used to keep spirits behind the counter because we were worried about theft, but we found that customers were put off. We now have them out on display and sales are doing well.

"Tobacco and confectionery are also valuable parts of the business. We actually have more space dedicated to confectionery than alcohol, but you've got a higher volume with the latter."

Richard Cook, Richlands Convenience Store, Sevenoaks, Kent