Readers don’t need me to tell them that Christmas is just around the corner.
Of course, it is the critical time of the year for our local traders, shopkeepers and small businesses who work on our high streets 52 weeks of the year to supply our daily needs.
It is – or ought to be – the busiest time of the year for them, which can give them the much needed boost in sales that the festive season should always bring.
Very often this helps to see them through what can be the first few quiet trading months of a new year.
Sadly, it is an inescapable fact that the retail sector has changed beyond all recognition in recent years.
So many people are these days buying items online through websites or using their smart phones to order the goods they want for Christmas.
This is evidenced by the number of white vans we can all see making deliveries to homes in our own streets, time after time.
Then, of course, our local shops also have to compete against the big names in city and out-of-town centres, all of which are taking away trade from our high streets.
Added together they make up some of the toughest trading conditions our local high streets have ever had to compete in.
Of course, everyone understandably looks for shopping bargains these days.
But if our shops are to continue to survive, they need the support of local customers.
And I would urge everyone to at least think about doing some of their Christmas present buying with them.
Don’t forget that our butchers, bakers and local fruit and gift shops also need people to visit them, rather than the supermarkets.
We still have plenty of good shops in Ashington, Bedlington, Newbiggin and The Square at Guide Post.
So please, think about taking a walk down the local high streets and see what they can tempt you with this Christmas.