The news that fuel duty will be frozen until August 2012 has been met with relief by many convenience retailers.

Store owners were fearful that the 3p increase planned for January 2012 would further dent margins, even though high prices at the pumps often prompt more people to shop locally (Convenience Store, November 25).

Mayur Patel, of Saxon Fields Stores, Andover, Hampshire, said a January hike would have been a “major crisis”. He added: “I used to drive to the cash and carry three times a week - now I go weekly due to fuel prices. I hold less stock. This gives me breathing space.”

The rise would have been particularly troublesome for rural shops, added Ken Parsons, chief executive of the Rural Shops Alliance.

“Collecting stock from the cash and carry can involve a trip of many miles, while even delivering newspapers in a country area can mean clocking up the miles. Rural stores are also conscious of the costs their suppliers incur any increase in fuel costs has to work through to invoiced cost prices very quickly,” he said.