By Michael Giles

I REALLY like the idea of walking up and down the main street at this time of year.
Maybe meeting someone you haven’t seen for a while and having a chat, stopping for a coffee or lunch with friends, and calling into one shop or another to see if there’s something in there you can add to a Christmas stocking.
The way people go shopping these days has changed for ever. I get that.
A bigger percentage of what people buy for themselves, for their family and friends throughout the year, never mind just at Christmas, is being purchased online where the variety is endless, the service good and the delivery prompt.
But hopefully that is mostly coming off what people would normally have bought when they visited the likes of Fountain Gate and Chadstone.
If we want to continue to have the convenience and the social enjoyment of going shopping in our own towns, we’ve got to make it our business at Christmas, and at other times of the year, to use our local retailers.
They need your patronage to survive.
And the towns need that support to remain vibrant.
Make it a point to target certain items on your gift register and food shopping list to be purchased locally.
And select some of those stores and shop owners you like or ones that have served you well over the years, and make it a point of buying something there in the run-up to Christmas.
We don’t have everything you can get on the Internet in our local shopping centres but there’s more than enough of a selection for you to get the bulk of your requirements locally.
In turn, our shopkeepers have to make every effort to serve their clients well and that includes creating the fun and atmosphere the customers like to see at Christmas.
Leongatha is one town that has really led the way this year in decorating their town in the Christmas theme, featuring the centrally located Christmas tree, and staging a Christmas carnival last weekend.
Others have done likewise, with Korumburra’s street carnival coming up this Friday and there’s the popular carols night in Wonthaggi next Sunday but it’s an area that business associations and business owners need to turn their attention to in the lead-up to the festive season.
What comes around goes around.
You support local business, they support their local chamber of commerce and the organisers of the chamber make sure there’s a real sense of occasion around shopping and enjoying the festive season in their town.
Clearly there’s room for improvement at all levels and it starts with you.