In July 2014, as part of RN’s 125th anniversary commemorative issue, I interviewed six world-renowned futurologists who have helped organisations including Nasa, Disney, Procter & Gamble and Microsoft prepare their businesses for the future.

I asked them about trends for shopping locally, Amazon drones, smart technology and what independent retailers must do to be successful long into the future.

Nearly 18 months later, one thing they agreed on still sticks with me. No matter how fast technology moves, independent retailers have an incredibly bright future. Even if Amazon can deliver your groceries within five hours, you can get that one thing, or 10 things, you need from your local shop right now. And humans crave convenience, locality and being able to look someone in the eye who can shape their whole day.

This, our first issue of 2016, is the perfect time to remind you of this, especially with Amazon Pantry in the news with plans to drastically expand its range in the new year. In this week’s issue, 10 retail experts have told us their predictions for the year ahead, and they agree with our 2014 futurologists.

The convenience industry will continue to grow, but to compete independents must understand their shoppers

The convenience industry will continue to grow, but to compete independents must understand their shoppers, be locally-orientated, attract shoppers with brilliant displays and demonstrate great value is on offer. Islington retailer Paul Gardner shares his blueprint in this issue for exactly how these four pillars might look in your store through his 16 tips for how he has grown healthy snacks and drinks sales.

The National Living Wage, tobacco legislation and more supplier margin pressure are all certain in the 12 months ahead, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Following Paul’s example shows how you can overcome the legislative and trading challenges ahead and thrive during them. Happy new year from all the RN team.

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