Are they or aren't they? No, not Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic. Rather, are independents in decline or not? That is the big debate raging this week between the Competition Commission and Association of Convenience Stores. The ACS is worried by the CC's reliance on a report from Experian Goad, which suggests that the numbers of non-affiliated independent stores are growing alongside the relentless march of the multiples into the convenience sector. The ACS would rather the CC used opposing statistics from The Knowledge Store and IGD, which report a 5.3% decline in true independent c-stores during 2006. This is more than a spat about who has the best number-crunchers. Should the results of the Experian Goad study be used as the sole barometer of the market, it would deal a hammer blow to the ACS argument that the difference in buying power between small and large retailers was ultimately responsible for the closure of independent stores and a reduction of consumer choice. The CC may want to have another look at the figures before any final decisions are reached.