This is the last regular issue for 2011 - the one where we all look backwards and forwards, expressing our hopes and fears for all the years. It would be easy to look back in anger. There was that soul-rottingly cold start for starters. You know what snow is, don’t you? Rain with staying power. (I spent 18 years in Canada’s frozen north and if I never see another snowflake ) Okay, I concede it was good for business for some of you.

Then at polar extremes there were the red hot riots that fanned out so frighteningly fast that it suddenly seemed like we were all living in a different country.

And overlaying the lot, there have been hard times for many and a promise of much more to come.

But on a bright note, as I write this, a new report on Radio 4’s You & Yours programme showed that small independents selling groceries showed a 5% increase for October. They are now “bucking the trend”. The secret is to deal in essentials was the somewhat obvious advice revealed. We all have to eat. Duh!

Mustn’t be churlish, though. It will soon be Christmas when we all have to eat even more, and no matter how rough and tough it is out there, people will spend. May much of it find its way into your tills and I wish everyone a safe and happy season. ■