Shoppers in South Tyneside are urged to get behind Small Business Saturday this weekend, following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Non-essential retail businesses in the Borough are now able to welcome back customers and people are being encouraged to shop local and shop safely.
And to give both shoppers and traders a boost, there will be free parking in council-owned car parks in South Shields town centre all day this Small Business Saturday.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "Businesses have taken a real battering during the coronavirus pandemic and we want to do all we can to support our traders.
"It's Small Business Saturday this weekend so what better time to get behind our local shops, market stalls and eateries and give them a much-needed boost.
"Our towns and villages have a great variety of independent stores and markets, offering a wide variety of products and bringing individuality and quirkiness.
"And let's not forget that many of our fantastic hospitality businesses are offering takeaway services.
"A lot of these small businesses have played a vital role supporting their communities during the lockdown periods and now they need our support more than ever.
"We know that people will be eager to get out and buy Christmas gifts, so we'd ask them to shop local, maybe grab themselves a bite to eat on the go and take advantage of our annual free festive parking."
Council-owned car parks in South Shields town centre will be free of charge after 3pm, and all day on Sundays for the whole month of December.
The council continues to support traders by implementing measures to ensure that people can shop with confidence. Messages and signs are in place to remind people about keeping a safe distance, and stewards and hand sanitiser stations are available at South Shields Marketplace.
Cllr Dixon added: "We'd ask people to continue to take a few sensible precautions including social distancing and wearing a face mask.
"We'd also remind them that many of our local businesses are offering an online or telephone service so people can order products from the comfort of their own home if they feel safer doing so."
For further information on shopping safely and free festive parking, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/christmas