Six people I’ve met this week have given me plenty of reasons to feel positive about the future of local shops and the year ahead.

Jerry Marwood, managing director of Spar wholesaler AF Blakemore, says there is no shortage of entrepreneurs wanting to open new stores or improve their offer again and again.

He was expecting symbol market consolidation this year, but instead is seeing innovation through the rapid growth of groups like Simply Fresh.

Meanwhile, Mike Colley, chairman of retail chain Rippleglen, says staff will help your business grow if you reward them. He gave the example of a recent visit from Health Lottery chief executive Dominic Mansour to find out why Rippleglen’s lotto sales were so high. Mr Colley told him that his staff were competing to be the top Health Lottery sellers at store, area and company level, with prizes of high street vouchers up for grabs.

Costcutter retailer Chaz Chahal passionately believes that if you get your store and range right, and don’t give customers an excuse to shop elsewhere, you will benefit from a growing number of customers looking to top-up shop at their local store.

Most retailers would be content with telling their MEP why they oppose the EU tobacco products directive through websites like www.NoThankEU.com.

Londis retailers Raj Aggarwal, Sunder Sandher and Dee Sedani, however, went all the way to Brussels to convince MEPs that banning 10 packs, menthols and small rolling tobacco pouches would be a disaster for local shops and a field day for the illicit trade.

All of these are examples of the convenience sector at its best, and the energy and innovation present in our trade every day.