It seems that a goodly number of you shop at supermarkets. Not a bad idea given the current climate as it not only bags you bargains, it also gives you a close-up view of how the opposition operates. Retailers from all over rang in response to my anonymous retailer who had asked whether it was legal to buy stock at supermarkets (Where do you buy your daily bread? Convenience Store, November 12) and who also asked 'What about the Vat?'

Not too many of you wanted to be named, either, but aside from that, you were very forthcoming. A newsagent in Coventry said Quality Street was a good example at the moment. "With Vat from the cash and carry it's £5.89. At the supermarket it's £4.50. That's a lot of margin. And I think Morrisons has it on special at £4. We all have to do it. It's sad that we have to knock on the doors of Asda, Lidl and the 99p Stores. I prefer to give my money to the cash and carry, but instead we have to go to Poundland or even Boots ( where aftershave is on a three-for-two offer). Coca-Cola was cheaper at Asda during the World Cup."

An Essex retailer says there are two ways of looking at the Vat question and uses bread as an example. "Buy from the supermarkets with cash and throw away the receipts, because if the Vat man picks up that receipt he will argue that the two-for-one offer which gives you a 40% margin rather than 20% is what you make on all lines and they will scrutinise you extremely closely."

On the other hand keep the receipts, because if you get robbed you can still use them to claim on your insurance.

His current favourites are wine and cheese: you can buy two bottles of wine for a tenner and you can get a "good enough" margin of 25%. And Cathedral City? Well, Tesco is giving it away at the moment, he says.

He adds that he is limited to 12 items at a time at the supermarket and his sister, who does the shopping, is often asked if it's for resale and they don't mind if it is. "They must be trained to get feedback," he concludes.

Manjit Sokhal, who doesn't mind me ID-ing her and her Coppice Lane Off Licence in Willenhall, West Midlands, says the limit depends on the manager. "We buy all kinds margarine, frozen foods, spirits. We stockpile when we can. We are very quiet at the moment and I think that's because people are stocking up for those two all-important Christmas days. We buy from all the main ones, Asda, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Morrisons. We check the leaflets in the free newspaper."

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