WELL researched advice and local knowledge helps to provide the unrivalled service offered by independent traders found on high streets up and down the country.

And the small businesses found within the towns and villages across Tynedale can certainly hold their own.

Shopping locally can make all the difference in the build up to Christmas – and all year round – for people who put their heart and soul into the world of local retail.

“The support we get locally in Hexham is fabulous and people know now what they’re getting when they take the time to come in,” said Lindsey Birney, who runs the Mr Wolf traditional toy shop with her husband Austin.

“It means the world when people come and choose to shop with us. The personal service we give has also helped us have a good first year in our Newcastle store.

“When did Christmas become such a nightmare? For me, it would be great if people took the time to really start and enjoy their Christmas shopping again, and view it as an experience.

“Where’s the fun in sitting online doing everything and then stressing about when it’s going to arrive?”

With the frenzy of the Black Friday sales a big draw for many to spend money online and in national outlets, independent retailers up and down the country are preparing to highlight what they have to offer during the festive season.

Small Business Saturday, the nationwide campaign to support and promote the UK’s 5.6 million small businesses, will take place on Saturday, December 7.

It encourages customers to go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores. Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.

Originally founded in the US in 2010 by American Express, last year saw an estimated £812m spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday.

Director of Small Business Saturday, Michelle Ovens MBE said: “Each year this campaign has grown in support from government, business and communities alike, and so we can’t wait for December 7 to come round and put small businesses in the spotlight once again.

“Small businesses are the heart of their communities with 5.6 million keeping their local economies moving, providing jobs, training and unique services.

“But this is not just a campaign for one day, it is a year-round celebration of small businesses and we want to ensure the long-term success of those high street heroes and digital stars, with a campaign that showcases their contribution for months before and after Small Business Saturday.”

And the campaign couldn’t have come at a better time, as research suggests nearly a quarter of all smaller UK businesses say they will have to close if they have a below average Christmas trading season.

Figures from a survey conducted by the online marketplace, Notonthehighstreet, lay bare the precarious nature of many small businesses in the UK and the need for consumers to support independent traders.

One in ten businesses who took part said they would shut in a matter of weeks.