A happy new year to everyone, and I hope that trading was brisk during the festive period. As far as we can tell, the independent convenience trade had a good time of it over Christmas, as the hard work of providing the right range, service and availability throughout the year paid off with customer loyalty during the annual food-fest bonanza.

Let’s hope 2013 continues in that spirit. This time last year we were looking forward to the Jubilee, the Olympics and a whole host of other events. In comparison, this year, on the surface at least, offers nothing to look forward to.

Personally, I think 2013 could be a momentous year for UK retail. My gut feeling is that yet more big-name high street operators will bite the dust as hopes of a Christmas boost failed to materialise. In food retail specifically, I think we are set for big changes too, as further store chain acquisitions and some major decisions on supply partners will be made, transforming the structure of the industry.

And how will independent operators fare? The team at C-Store has carried out an analysis of the independent convenience sector in our pages this week. And we think that, despite the challenges and the competition, there are still plenty of opportunities; both by capturing new customers and to work your existing business even better.

2013 will be all about maximising and minimising – maximising your footfall, sales and community impact, and minimising your costs and your losses to the competition. So the trade will be tightening belts and battening down hatches, but I am sure that most readers of C-Store will end up looking back on 2013 as another year where they not just survived, but thrived.