Welcome back. And here's an early prediction on Christmas trading.

The figures aren't out till next week but from our anecdotal survey of leading grocers and grocery experts, the miserable Christmas that experts were predicting appears not to have materialised (see p26). Hurrah! Though general retailers Curry's and Next issued profit warnings this week, the food and drink industry appears to have been protected, once again, by the fact that we all need to eat.

Or is a deeper trend at work? Could it be that even as we resist the video games from Curry's and the tacky Christmas socks from Next, we are no longer prepared to skimp and save on quality food? Or is it simply the resilience of the one-stop-shop business model?

There is a final possibility, and that's the fact that food and drink prices are cut to the bone already. Certainly the new year has provided an unequivocal answer to the question of whether Iceland's "non-negotiable" new terms, scheduled to kick in at the start of the year, would stick.

With negotiations now taking place, it's clear that compromises are being made, but some suppliers are reporting that Iceland - and its parent company Icebox that outlined the change in payment terms on an A4 sheet - backed down altogether (see p4).

I'm not surprised: Young's Bluecrest reported net profit margins of 0.85%, while Icelandic Group UK made a 0.3% loss.

If a 2.75% settlement discount sent two of its largest (£300m+) suppliers over the edge, what impact the 45 extra trading days on small guys? Icebox claimed it was seeking to create parity in terms across the group.

But while margins on video games and clothing can be huge, the frozen puff-pastry-thin margins in grocery may just be its saving grace.