Davenport direct

After all that has been said, the government hasn't listened ... now the gloves are off

Any retailer would be forgiven for shutting shop and hanging the Back in 2020 sign on the door after the government signalled the beginning of what could bring changes of seismic proportions to the trade. Forget car crash TV, we're now firmly centre stage of our worst nightmare and there aren't many cushions to hide behind.

While we've been busy picking over the remains of one of the worst tax hikes

for a long time and have begun to squabble about which cash-strapped consumer will throw us a bone, the government has been conspiring in the background. Suddenly, extracting money from

tightened wallets

seems like a creative challenge in comparison to mounting a charge against the draconian proposals presented by the Department of Health this week.

Think we're being sensationalist? Frankly, the plot's so farcical it could only be true. Here are some of the most far reaching proposals ever to be laid before our trade, and a government, which says it believes in partnership, decides their first airing should be via a leak to the Daily Mail.

We may have become resigned to the role of the media's whipping boy, but could this administration show an industry - and those associations representing it both in the on and off-trades - any more disdain? How much store can we really put by its promises to give the industry's shouts about our achievements serious consideration.

Will consumers come to the trade's aid, when we warn the government expects them to queue at a separate till for their bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape? In reality, when they're forced to wait

10 minutes in a supermarket they might put that bottle back and walk out, but right now it's the price of fuel, eggs and bread that they're worried about.

The health lobby has already gone into overdrive and we need to be on guard for more sustained attacks in the media and by enforcement authorities. The gloves are off. As well as all the usual cries of needing to shout with one voice - at a grassroots level, retailers need to maintain the dedication they have shown to uphold

existing laws before we get hit with more

debilitating legislation.

We've seen what the future could look like - and some of the options have been laid out in front of us. Taxation, promotions, sampling - the points of contention are there for all to see. So, now we know our enemy, how will we step up to the plate and face the challenge?