Go small and local this Christmas

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Like most children born in the 1970s and early 1980s, I spent much of my formative years in shops, the majority of which were independent businesses such as butchers, greengrocers and even the largely long forgotten general stores, where you could buy a chunk of Red Leicester along with a box of picture hooks.

We knew the names of those shopkeepers and they were reassuringly familiar faces.

I don’t remember going to the supermarket much, largely due to the fact that the nearest chain store was a 25-minute drive away and we only went there when we fancied something fancy, such as frozen pizza.

These days, most of us are usually no more than five minutes away from at least one supermarket and depend upon them heavily.

Supermarkets, and big business in general, are all well and good but it is the locally-based, smaller outfits which really make our communities tick, which is why we need to cherish these smaller businesses.

Yes, they may sometimes be a bit more expensive than a Tesco or a budget European chain, but our local businesses are far more accountable to their customers.

It may not always be the case, but my view is that you tend to get a better customer experience from somebody who owns their company than you do from an employee who knows they will get paid, whether the punters are happy or not.

This weekend heralds Small Business Saturday, something which has followed the dreadful Black Friday across the Atlantic but is a cause worth getting behind.

We are often told our town centres are dying a slow, painful death, which has much to do with the rise and rise of online shopping.

We can play our part by pulling ourselves away from Sky Sports on a Saturday afternoon and get down the High Street and put cash into the tills of those who live in our communities.

Yes, you can buy most things from the comfort of your reclining armchair but you cannot beat the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting people who live and work in your town or village.