A leading wholesaler says that the recession has put good old-fashioned grocery back on his agenda as his retailer customers say the higher frequency of shop visits by locals is holding up. Many penny-wise families remain cautiously watchful of their spend at the superstore, with its temptations to over-buy.

Forecasts of a bleak economic winter with rising job losses could boost local visit frequency further, especially if Tesco's trumpeting of the end of the downturn turns out to be wishful thinking, or just anti-Sainsbury propaganda as retailer friends suggest.

Grocery has form. In the 1990s, naughty local store sector leaders advanced the cause of impulse, alcohol, fresh, frozen, non-foods in fact, anything but the foundation lines of our marketplace, built over generations by household names.

But grocery's traditions, consumer loyalty and huge brands have seen off the radicals. Coffee, tea, baked beans, sauces, rice pudding and the rest are alive and well.

Neighbourhood shops will profit most from a grocery offering which meets local needs, but many stores are missing out.

Take tea, for example. Store visits suggest independents believe that 95% of the market is in black tea. The real figure is 75%. One in 10 consumers will buy decaf tea, but where is it? One in five will buy green tea. Absent again.

Planograms are essential to remind us that any retail outlet must display what consumers want. Inspect your range and if it's found wanting gradually cut back the black tea shelf space allocation, safeguarding the best-sellers, and gradually get some decaf and green into that space.

This might prevent folk from automatically frequenting Waitrose, soon to be your c-store neighbour.