Independent retailers are positive about their prospects on 2014, with the latest ACS Optimism Index showing its third consecutive quarter of improvement. However, the Index is part of a mixed set of results from the ACS Voice of Local Shops survey, conducted with over a thousand retailers in February 2014.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The third successive rise in the Optimism Index is an encouraging sign for the sector, and is backed up by improving wider economic indicators and the perception that convenience retailing is a growth market.

"However, wet weather does not help local shops, and recent sales performer has taken a dip. Alongside rising cost pressures, this made for a tough Winter."

The survey showed that competition in the market was the most pressing issue for convenience retailers, but the impact of business rates was also a key concern, with almost one in four citing rates as one of the biggest obstacles to growth.

Lowman continued: “Government action to reduce the impact of business rates has been welcome, but there is still a fundamental question about the way that business rates are calculated which needs answering. We believe that a root and branch review of the rates system is urgently needed.”

The full survey is available on the ACS website at: