Despite the thoroughness of the Competition Commission's inquiry, which will not see publication of its findings until February 2008, many c-store owners are sceptical about whether it will have a positive impact on their businesses, according to our latest online and telephone poll.

Only 20% of c-store owners are confident that the Commission's findings will help the sector. But one retailer says the report will highlight the disadvantages smaller c-store operators face when competing against the larger multiples.

However, the same retailer doesn't believe the Commission has the best interests of the sector at heart - a view that is shared by all respondents. “The Commission really doesn't care about the c-store sector,” is a common response from the survey.

The outlook for the sector appears gloomy, results from the survey indicate, with 100% of c-store owners saying their businesses will suffer if the multiples are allowed to continue trading as they do.

“Our business is already suffering because of the low pricing tactics of the big players and it will continue to do so in the future if nothing is done to stop them,” says one retailer.

“The future is not that positive for our business at the moment and we expect to suffer further if the government continues to ignore our plight,” adds another.

While independents are unanimous in their belief their businesses will suffer if the Commission doesn't make findings in their favour, less than half have not been willing to provide evidence for the investigation.

Those that have been involved have done so through the Association of Convenience Stores or the Scottish Grocers' Federation, and some have also provided information through their symbol group. “We have got involved through the ACS, which has been very helpful,” says one retailer.

Reasons for not getting involved with the inquiry include being unsure about how to go about it or because respondents didn't feel their input would have any real effect on the outcome. Many respondents believe it is already a foregone conclusion that little will be done to help them.