The wide range of products and services offered by independents means that there is hardly a dull moment in this game, and this week was certainly no exception.

Mr Murdoch finally made an announcement about his new Sunday paper, and things are moving apace with the forthcoming tobacco display ban in large stores.

Last week I was invited to speak about the opportunity that the display ban will present small stores at a supplier conference. However, the audience - mainly brand managers - were surprisingly unaware of what it could mean for us indies and what in turn it could mean to them.

This weekend I had cause to pop into one of my local Asda supermarkets (market research, of course) and this store had already ‘gone dark’. While the store was not particularly busy, there was a fair queue at the tobacco kiosk.

Shoppers didn’t understand why they couldn’t see cigarettes anymore, and I even overheard someone ask, “Don’t you sell cigarettes any more?”.

So what’s my point, I hear you ask. Well, there can be no doubt that the new Sun on Sunday and the display ban will drive footfall into our stores. However, it’s up to us to retain this new-found spend.

We have to make sure that those first impressions count, and that we get shoppers picking up a basket, looking around our stores, and buying.

Manufacturers and wholesalers also have a big part to play in helping us achieve this. We need the edge, we need the promotions and we need exclusive packs. Suppliers also need to make more of their new products available to the independent sector and not just to the multiples, as customers will expect these items to be in our stores. More people on the ground offering category advice and pos will also help us to drive up standards.