Retailers were taking a nervous look into the future this week, after Gordon Brown took up the PM role.

A C-Store poll revealed widespread confusion about what kind of an impact the new Prime Minister would have on the industry, with the majority of retailers fearing the worst.

Nine out of 10 respondents said they expected life under Gordon Brown's government to become tougher, and were bracing themselves for further negative impacts on their businesses. Only 10% of retailers questioned thought that things would stay the same, although none envisaged a slowdown in the rising tide of costs and legislation.

"Brown will bide his time at first, but bit by bit he will start nibbling away at our profits just like Tony Blair has done for the past 10 years," said Nisa Borth store owner Derek Edwards.

Independent retailer Dean Holborn from Redhill, Surrey, added: "I don't have any hope at all for Gordon Brown. I'm expecting higher costs, more form-filling and greater competition."

Raj Sivanesan, owner of Fine Life Shopper store near Tower Bridge in London, said he had "lost all faith in this government". He commented: "A new leader will not change a thing. Business has been a constant uphill struggle over the past decade. Almost everything has got worse - particularly the crime situation."

Brown's vow that he would deliver "power back to the people" was also met with scorn by the UK's army of store owners.

"I remember Tony Blair saying a very similar thing, and look where we are now," said Andy Patel, owner of Budgens' new Virginia Quay store. "The government does not understand the needs of smaller businesses. Urgent reforms are needed, but I'm not holding out any hope."

"It's all political spin," added Cumbrian convenience store owner Derek Gillpin. "All Brown is good at is reducing our profits with his stealth taxes and reforms. He will not be a godfather to our industry in any way, shape or form."

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