On what is traditionally the busiest pre-Christmas shopping day, North East residents are being encouraged to shop local, supporting small independent retailers.
Today has been dubbed Small Business Saturday, a nationally-recognised move to breathe new life into the high street while acknowledging the positive impact smaller companies can make.
The idea began in the US three years ago and in 2012 helped drive sales of £3.5bn in small, independent shops.
The British version has the backing of a huge range of companies, councils and trade groups, including the Association of Convenience Stores and the Federation of Small Businesses. which represent hundreds of thousands of small firms.
Ted Salmon, North East regional chairman of the FSB said: “There are 134,000 small businesses across the North East employing 333,000 staff and contributing £24bn to the economy.
“Small Business Saturday is a great way for their contribution to be recognised and celebrated. We’re encouraging people from across the region to spend locally today and support a small business in the town or city they live in. There are some easy ways to do this - for example buying a coffee in an independent cafe such as Pink Lane Coffee or Flat Cap Joes in Newcastle.”
In the city centre and other shopping hotspots, retailers have been encouraged to display posters throughout the day, showing their support for Small Business Saturday.
News of the event has also been spread via newsletters, social media and websites, such as Newcastle City Council’s and that of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. Throughout the day, numerous crowd-drawing events will be held throughout Newcastle, from Grainger Market’s Christmas Arts and Crafts Market to the Shields Road Winter Festival.
Coinciding with Small Business Saturday, Enterprise and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock will be announcing a new package of measures to help SMEs.
He said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy and Small Business Saturday is a chance for everyone, including the government, to get behind our small firms.”
Small businesses will also benefit from a £250 million being made available to the British Business Bank to improve access to finance.