16 May 2016 - Janet Bird
Challenging times ahead have failed to dent the optimism of Britain's small shopkeepers, a survey suggests.
Research undertaken among its members by the Association of Convenience Stores found that 47 percent of independent convenience retailers expect sales to increase this year and only 15 percent expect them to fall.
The convenience sector employs more than 407,000 people and contributes £5bn to the UK economy. Small shops have been driving growth during the retail industry's toughest period since the 2008 recession and the convenience sector has enjoyed three consecutive quarters of growth.
However, although around 21 percent of retailers questioned reported seeing an increase in sales during the last three months compared to the same period last year, 34 percent said sales had fallen.
A separate survey by wholesaler Palmer & Harvey of 1,000 convenience store owners found that the implementation of the National Living Wage was their largest concern, with many anticipating having to shed staff or cut their hours to cope with the extra cost.