Despite the strains on the consumer purse, the increasing high-street presence of small-format supermarkets and the summer’s social unrest, the independent convenience retail sector continued to hold its own in 2011, says Christie & Co’s Business Outlook 2012.

According to the report, which uses average price information derived from retail transactions brokered by the company, average convenience retail property prices fell by 3.6% in 2011, compared with an increase of 2.1% increase the previous year.

The report also highlighted the growing importance of symbol brands as well as the challenges faced by forecourts, predicting that fuel supply opportunities will be limited and margins squeezed.

Steve Rodell, director & head of retail at Christie & Co, said: "Despite welcome news from the Chancellor that January’s scheduled rise in fuel duty is deferred to August, independent operators saw relentless competition in 2011 from the supermarkets which often priced fuel as a loss-leader, in order to vie for consumers’ weekly shopping budget. However, independent forecourts continued to seek their own partners and engaged with convenience symbol brands such as Spar and introduced other concepts like Subway, Starbucks, Greggs and Costa Coffee to counter the effects of falling fuel sales and reducing margins."