One of the most interesting things about this job is seeing the ways new thinking on retailing gets adopted throughout the industry at sometimes surprising speed.
I like to think that we at Convenience Store play our part in spreading the word about best practice, and our strong links with wholesalers, symbol groups and manufacturers helps this process no end, but on occasions some trends seem to have a life of their own.
Fresh fruit and veg is one of these. A good number of successful independent c-stores have had a strong fresh food offer for many years now, but they were still in a small minority. Now it seems that the majority of new and refitted store plans start with an extensive fresh and chilled food section, and build from there.
This is a significant change, and good news for the small store industry. Fruit and veg has been a problem area in the past poor quality produce, poor displays, high wastage, lack of interest. But most operators have got past that now and look at the positives rising customer demand, good margins, a healthy image and a great advert for the rest of the shop.
There is a lot of material in this edition of C-Store about the growth of the multiples, and there is no denying that their influence has created a universal expectation of fresh food when the shopper enters a grocery store, whatever its size.
There can be no doubt in anybody's mind that a significant number of consumers want to shop locally and also eat healthily, if not for themselves then at least for their children. It's time for the whole industry to start surfing that wave.
If you are still not sure whether you should be attending the National Convenience Show in Birmingham later this month, I'm sure our preview (p47-66) will help you make up your mind.
It's a brand new event this year, with a host of new features and presentations and many of the UK's leading convenience suppliers in attendance. And with the always excellent ACS Summit combined as part of the programme, it is a very time-efficient way of picking up ideas and networking with manufacturers and fellow independent retailers.
I'll be there for all three days, as will the rest of the C-Store team, and I hope to meet as many of you as possible. As I've always said, if we can help you and your store in any way, we will try to do so. And if you have some ideas of your own as to how we can make your favourite magazine even more useful, for three days you will have the opportunity to let us know in person.