With the festive period just around the corner, the CLA in the North is urging shoppers to support local rural businesses this Christmas.
The call comes ahead of Small Business Saturday, a grass-roots campaign to encourage consumers to buy local, which will be taking place this Saturday.
CLA North Regional Director, Dorothy Fairburn, said: "Small independent shops are the lifeblood of rural communities, yet they often struggle to compete with online sellers and large out-of-town retailers. A good festive season can help ensure that local businesses survive and maintain vital jobs and services through quieter times of the year."
MPs have also tabled a Westminster Hall debate for this afternoon to discuss the merits of Small Business Saturday.
Miss Fairburn added: “We are delighted to support Small Business Saturday and I urge shoppers to avoid traffic queues, expensive parking and packed pavements this weekend. Instead, they should explore what's on offer in farm shops, village stores, farmers' markets or in our market towns where traditional, independent shops are still plentiful."
Traders in Alnwick are taking part in Small Business Saturday. Among the initiatives, the Castle Quarter will be launching a Christmas 2015 loyalty prize hamper initiative, while each business in the town with special promotions will have red balloons hanging outside their front door. The Christmas Fair will be running in the town on Saturday and Sunday.