RETAIL businesses in South Tyneside received a seasonal boost from a VIP guest.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson, went walkabout in South Shields town centre to gauge how the local retail sector is faring.
Coun Gibson managed to visit 54 shop units in King Street, Fowler Street and Walterloo Square.
He said: “Local retailers play a major part in our daily lives, whether it’s for residents doing their weekly shop or tourists on a day trip from outside of the borough.
“I wanted to personally thank shopowners for making South Shields a great place to be, and the hard work that they put into the whole retail experience.
“These are exciting times for everybody associated with the area, as South Shields 365 town centre vision is providing a wonderful framework to be implemented over the coming years.
“This will bring amazing investment, retail and social opportunities for businesses, residents and visitors. I wished everyone I met Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2014.”
Sue Taylor, manager of Dickson’s pork shop in King Street, said: “I thought it was a lovely personal touch for the Mayor to individually speak to businesses in the town centre.
“I’ve only been manager for a few months, and I’ve never heard of a Mayor going to such lengths within the local community.”
Coun Gibson also popped into Greenwoods Menswear shop to chat to assistant manager, Jack Coxon.
Mr Coxon said: “We had a good conversation about a number of things, including local business issues and the new parking redemption scheme.
“The Mayor asked how we were doing, as he pops in from time to time for a chat.”
Coun Gibson also enjoyed a cuppa at Aldermans Coffee House and chatted to staff at Vision Express.
The Mayor has also recently visited shopping areas in Jarrow, Boldon and Whitburn, to talk to business owners.