When the clocks chimed midnight on New Year’s Eve there would have been plenty of business owners feeling they had little to celebrate. However, we at C-Store believe there is much for the convenience sector to be optimistic about in the coming 12 months.

There is no doubt that retailers will face challenges in the months ahead, but those dealing mainly in food and drink will have the confidence to know that there will be steady demand at least.

While there is little you can do to prevent your overheads rising or competitors moving into your patch, there is always something you can do to improve your own business and make it even more closely aligned to customers’ needs.

In uncertain times the experience and ingenuity of independent retailers comes to the fore and over the next few pages our C-Store Champions offer their advice on how businesses can overcome a selection of common retail problems.

And as you will see from our survey on page 30, the clear majority (59%) of independent c-store owners in the UK are expecting their businesses to grow in 2009, a far cry from the wipespread predictions of misery. So read on and find out how you can change things for the better in 2009.