Happy New Year to you I hope it all went well for you and your businesses. Many of you enjoyed reasonable trading over the Christmas period by the sounds of it (see News Extra on page 10), and seem pretty optimistic about your prospects for 2013. That’s the spirit no one ever got very far with negative thinking. There are things to be encouraged about, such as the increase in footfall as people fill their cars little and often. They are also more likely to be doing a top-up shop than travelling to a supermarket for a giant trawl round the store with a trolley. That means they will be making more journeys into your forecourt stores to be tempted by all your products and services as long as they are tempting. If not, there’s plenty of other places they can go as all grocers focus on the c-store sector.

The market will continue to be extremely challenging of course, but it’s surprising what a ’lift’ the industry felt following the cancellation of the fuel duty rise in December’s Autumn Statement. It took everyone’s focus off the fuel price for a while, with prospects of a further fall in oil prices something to be welcomed.

However, not everyone was relaxed as we approached the seasonal festivities. PRA chairman Brian Madderson was getting extremely hot under the collar as he read the press release from DECC (the Department of Energy & Climate Change) which erroneously reported on the Deloitte Report into the UK fuel market that, well basically, everything in the garden is rosy. The report actually confirms that the majority of fuel forecourts are running with dangerously low levels of stock and that the continued closure of forecourts is reducing on-site storage capacity across the country. Yet DECC reported that the retail sector has up to eight days of fuel capacity to meet current demands.

"Which planet are these people living on?" exclaimed the exasperated Madderson, before disembowelling the turkey. Way to go, Brian.