The established co-operative movement may be down but it is certainly not out, with many societies improving on the poor results of past years (for example, the Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Society increased profits 33 per cent last year to pounds 5.1m).
Additionally, a rapidly growing number of new co-operatives of various kinds are being set up all the time. These include credit unions and informal food co-ops as well as housing and workers' societies.
Agricultural buying co-ops now account for a larger turnover than the rest of the consumer movement combined and more than their private-sector competitors in this market.
I trust that all those who believe in the co-operative ideal will join their local retail society, shop in its stores and help to revitalise democracy and accountability by attending meetings and making their voices heard.