Consumer: Let's back Belfast ... and grab great deal into bargain
Today is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It's also a make or break day for many traders in Belfast city centre after a turbulent 12 months beset with problems.
Protests – sometimes violent – against the decision to fly the Union flag at City Hall on designated days were a constant feature of 2012 and they cost the local economy millions.
That is why this newspaper has revived its We're Backing Belfast campaign to ask consumers to come out this weekend and get behind retailers, restaurants and bars.
Your support has never been so important, because Northern Ireland's capital city cannot sustain another dent in festive shopping similar to last year.
Our call comes as Belfast braces itself for today's loyalist flag protest, which organisers claim could attract 10,000 demonstrators and 40 bands.
And it follows last weekend's bomb attack by dissident republicans at Victoria Square shopping complex – a flagship symbol of the province's economic prosperity.
Editor Mike Gilson said: "The Belfast Telegraph supports the rights of everyone to debate and protest in a democratic society, but it also supports the rights of everyone to be able to get on with their lives without fear and thuggery, and that is why we are supporting the city centre traders with our campaign and our offers."
Our consumer and economic drive – which was launched yesterday – has received backing of Prime Minster David Cameron, First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, other senior politicians and many more high-profile figures from the business and entertainment sectors (see above).
Describing Belfast as "a fantastic city with so much to offer and so much potential", Mr Cameron encouraged consumers to come out and shop this weekend.
"Our high streets should be at the heart of our communities – bringing people together, supporting jobs and growth, and, as Christmas approaches, be a place for joy, celebration and peace," he said.
Belfast City Centre Management (BCCM) chief executive Andrew Irvine also asked consumers to help traders today.
"We are very happy to support this campaign.
"It is critical that the public receive positive messages communicating the many reasons why they should use and enjoy Belfast city centre," he said.
So, in order to help spread some Christmas cheer, we've complied a list of tempting top deals exclusively for readers of the Belfast Telegraph.
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So, what's your story? Let us know if you have any consumer concerns. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org