The most negative responses since last September showed fewer independents reporting improved sales, a reduction in the number expecting a turnover boost in the next quarter and only a few claiming net margins were rising. With the World Cup, the Queen's Jubilee and summer approaching, the survey is something of a shock. When questioned about their current trade only 21% said it was showing an upturn, compared with 40% last month. There were 51% who claimed business was unchanged and 28% who said it was worse. Last month's corresponding figures were 36% and 24%. The survey showed that 41% believed sales would improve over the next three months (60% last month), 38% who felt there would be no change (28% last time), and 21% who believed business would dip (12% last month). On net margins, 16% (compared with 23% last month) said their profit had improved, while 51% reported no change and 33% said margins had declined. Last month's respective figures were 46% and 31%. Some 23% said they would increase their level of investment in their businesses, compared with 25% last month. This month 91% believed they were viewed as competitive, compared with 74% last month. Some 9% who thought they were seen as expensive (22% last month) but this month nobody felt they were viewed as very expensive (4%). This month 63% pointed to price as their main reason for using a C&C, but there was a drop (from 24% to 19%) in those reporting their wholesaler as very good on price, range and stock levels. More (20% compared to 14%) said their wholesaler's performance was poor. Walkers Sensation crisps was voted the month's best promotion. {{GROCER CLUB }}