As you read this there will only be 32 shopping days left until Christmas, and the build-up will really get into gear from this weekend locally when the first of our three main local towns switch on their festive lighting displays.
This weekend it will be the turn of Newbiggin, from 4pm on Saturday, followed next weekend by both Ashington and Bedlington. Both will be held on Friday, December 1, from 1pm to 7pm, in Ashington, and from 4pm in Bedlington.
Many of our local traders, I suspect, will tell you that this has been another tough trading year, with shoppers tightening their belts in the face of economic uncertainty, some of which could be down to Brexit and concerns about what will happen when we leave the EU.
So many will be looking forward to Christmas sales giving them the sort of boost they feel they so badly need.
Here again, however, the market place seems to get tougher each year for local businesses, with increased competition from retail outlets such as the MetroCentre and the huge out-of-town complexes, plus the ever-increasing growth in online retailing.
There is no doubt that times have changed beyond all recognition in retailing in recent years, but it so important that we retain our traditional high streets, and the only way we can do that is to continue to use them as shoppers.
There’s an old saying ‘use it or lose it’, and nowhere is that more true than in the world of retailing. Every pound spent in a local shop gives a great boost to the local economy by helping to keep them in businesses and people in employment.
So my plea as we get into the countdown to Christmas is to think about at least spending a little more of your money on presents, food and drink with local businesses, especially the small independent traders.
They need our support to stay in business, and when better to do than in the last few weeks up to Christmas.