Three out of four retailers are optimistic about the year ahead, according to the latest C-Store poll.

Of the 60 respondents to a C-Store survey, 75% said they were optimistic about 2014, although some retailers warn that competition from the multiples and discounters is more intense than ever.

Budgens retailer Vince Maloney, who owns two stores in Surrey and Berkshire, said: “Over the last few months our sales have been very good on the back of a good summer and I hope that this continues. I’m a lot more optimistic that we’ll see opportunities for growth and that we can differentiate ourselves.”

Chris Pollard, of Barlby Village Stores, Selby, North Yourkshire, said: “All I can see is things getting better and better, so I’m hoping to see growth in sales in 2014.”

But he added: “The biggest fear for me is how the market is becoming more and more polarised and the big boys are trying to into more village locations.”

Barnstaple retailer Leslie Brown, of Frankmarsh Stores, Barnstaple, Devon, said the store’s biggest threat was from discounters which were not usually associated with grocery.

“Everyone talks about the threat from the multiples, but in the space of three weeks we had two discounters opening in units vacated by struggling retailers,” she said. Lesley, who is town mayor, was then asked to open a Poundstretcher in an old Staples store. “Again there were loads of groceries, with loss leaders on sugar, milk and bread,” she added. “Another retailer is rumoured to be opening in an empty Comet site, but we don’t know who it is yet.”

She said trade had picked up since the stores had opened. “I’m cautious about the year ahead. We must be careful about what we stock - I’m trying to boost the grocery side of the business.”