BUSINESSES in the Tyne Valley have rallied round to meet demand in the run-up to Christmas.

The re-opening of shops deemed non-essential has seen a surge of custom from last minute festive shoppers.

Hexham was busy on Saturday. Car parking space in the town centre was at a premium, with people taking advantage of temporary easing of time limits at council car parks.

It was clear that many residents have heeded pleas to support local businesses, with jewellers, book shops and other outlets helping people find gifts and household essentials.

In Haltwhisle, shoe shop retailer John Bakewell praised shoppers who chose to support the high street instead of making online purchases.

"I think the coronavirus pandemic has made all of us more aware of local businesses," he said.

"You will get some people who will use the internet regardless, but here in Haltwhistle people have been staying local and using what's here on the doorstep, which is very encouraging during that has been such a challenging year."

With restaurants and pubs unable to open as they usually would, takeaway food has increased in popularity. Traditional eateries such as the General Havelock Inn at Haydon Bridge, and the Blenkinsopp Castle Inn near Haltwhistle, have excelled with take-out Sunday lunches and have even developed festive takeaway options.

Mobile food outlets have also been busy in the run up to Christmas. The distinctive jungle of Tyne Valley Ices has been heard regularly across the district, while Anna Hunter's FlipnFast crepes van was a popular choice in Haydon Bridge last week. Fire & Dough Pizza has also been a welcome presence.