Local retailers have become increasingly pessimistic about the year ahead, according to a new survey by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The latest Voice of Local Shops survey, which tracked local shop owners throughout 2012, has revealed that one in four expected their sales to fall in 2013, while less than a third expected their sales to grow. In May, only 13% believed their sales would decline in the coming year.

The survey also found that half of retailers reported a decline in sales over the autumn, the worst result since the research started in February.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said that, while events like the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee may have boosted retailers’ optimism in the summer, they were now bracing themselves for a tough 2013.

“While most retailers are cashing in on festive cheer, convenience stores are looking for ways to stay afloat,” he said.

“The chancellor had an opportunity to give local shops and other businesses an early Christmas present in his Autumn Statement by stopping unpredictable rates increases, but he failed to do so.”