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With Christmas just around the corner, the fortune of the high street looks as bleak as the deep midwinter.

Spending your hard-earned cash is part and ‘parcel’ of the festive season, as this time of giving hammers our bank accounts but I’m taking a different approach this year, I’m making it my mission to explain that you can get some great deals when you shop locally.

Putting my theory into practice, this year I’ll be ignoring online retailers completely over the festive period and instead, opting for the shops that are trying their hardest to spread some much-needed cheer this Christmas.

It’s now been ten years since Woolworths famously closed its doors for the last time and we’ve seen high street retailers continue to struggle ever since. Favourites such as Debenhams, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and John Lewis have all reported problems and profit warnings in this hostile climate as bricks and mortar stores come ever closer to breaking point.

This year I’m going to lace up my boots, brave the cold, embrace the festive spirit and head to Leeds and my old stomping ground of York to do my Christmas shopping.

As an eager beaver who was keen to get my shopping done early, rather than leaving it until the last minute – as I have done so many times before, I ventured into Leeds last weekend.

Having no idea what I would buy or who I would purchase for I had a walk around and managed to tick a few names off Santa’s list. I’ll even go as far as to say that I left feeling rather smug. The Christmas lights, carollers and the warming calls of ‘ROAST CHESTNUTS’ were enough to get Scrooge into the festive spirit and it was great to see Leeds as busy as ever.

They say that for every £1 you spend in a local small or medium sized business 63p of it is then reinvested back into the community. If you were to spend this money online instead, it’s unlikely that any of it will go into supporting your town or village.

If you buy from a local store you’re contributing to the wages of your neighbours, helping another store to remain open and ultimately making your high street a more attractive place – nobody wants their local community to be a ghost town.

It’s true that the high street does need to modernise and adapt to the way we spend our money as we’re now more likely to part with our cash on experiences or social events, but we still need to support local shops and business people before they disappear for good.

Once the shops are gone, they’re gone. Town centres will become ghost towns, devoid of any hustle and bustle or personality. So, remember this year, instead of clicking a few buttons and having a parcel miraculously arriving at your door the next day, think about how far that money would go on the high street and the important social impact it continues to play in your community.

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