So here we are in 2012, and a Happy New Year to you all.

Christmas 2011 for me seemed to be a reflection of the year as a whole. Without doubt we are seeing more customers, which I put down to the rising cost of fuel and  shift in customers buying only what they need for tonight and maybe the next couple of days, as opposed to the massive supermarket shops of the past. While this is good, there has been a significant shift towards value. Customers are watching their spending and multibuys and promotions seem to be doing very well. This was reflected in my recent accounts – an increase in my turnover, but a small (thankfully) reduction in my gross profit margin.

Another sector which has done well and which I intend to build on is in-store services such as DVD rental, ATM, coffee to go, PayPoint and so on. We find even things like ink cartridge and battery recycling points drive footfall.

As we do every year, we held our annual taste of Christmas open evening in December. This is our opportunity to showcase our store and let our customers try before they buy with a food and wine tasting. More than this, it also serves as an opportunity to say thank you to our customers for their valued support through the year. I believe we should all remember that customers do have a choice, and they should be thanked and perhaps rewarded for their loyalty.

2012 has been predicted as the year of opportunity for indies, and I believe this. Although I don’t agree that the display ban will drive the sales in c-stores as some predict, I do believe that 2012 will be as good a year as any for us. However, it is what you do with the opportunity that matters.

I would certainly advise that you keep reading C-Store in 2012 to keep up with current events, and as retailers let’s all try to share good practise and ideas where we can.