There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful, c-store operators believe

Cracking festive sales and the promise of a battery of high-profile national events are filling c-store retailers with a quiet sense of optimism for the year ahead.

Despite gloomy economic forecasts and predictions that unemployment will hit 2.9 million, a new year straw poll of Convenience Store readers revealed that the vast majority were feeling “generally positive” about the year ahead, providing they can offer competitive pricing and engage meaningfully in local and national events.

Scottish retailer Ian Mitchell of The Village Store in East Ayrshire said he was “excited” about the coming 12 months.

“Convenience is clearly what people want and as long as we keep on offering it in the right way and at the right price the customers should keep on coming. A strong set of Christmas trading figures have already helped to get the year off to a good start for us. We were significantly up December 2010, due to Christmas Day falling on a Sunday, which gave people more shopping time,” he said.

In Cheshire Raj Dhillon, owner of Dhillon Widnes Stores, also said he was feeling positive “but cautious”. He added: “With the threat of a double dip recession still looming, price will remain front of mind for shoppers so we’ll have to fight for every pound. £1 lines will be crucial in the new year and Spar is helping us compete by focusing heavily on these types of deals.

“Getting involved in national events such as the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee will also be key to keep local people on our side,” he said.

Seconding the mood, IGD senior business analyst David Shukri told C-Store: “The challenges of 2012 will be akin to those faced in 2011. The need to demonstrate value, relevance and engagement with shoppers will remain at the fore for convenience operators.”