THE move into Level 2 is welcome but continual vigilance will be required to keep it that way, let alone make progress. It’s easy to slip back, which was evident from being in London last week – a ghostly train carrying few passengers matched on arrival by a city, whilst not deserted, still a far cry from its usual hubbub.

Christmas shopping, though, has now begun, even if it’ll be different this year with restrictions, social distancing and many shifting to online purchases. Some of that is required and other aspects understandable. But I do hope folk will think of shopping locally where they can. It’s a chance for us to pay back those local retailers who have been struggling but still supplying us through all this uncertainty.

Whilst down south, I took part in a seminar on illicit trade, having formerly chaired the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group. For those who may be tempted by a seeming bargain online or out of the back of a van, can I remind everyone of the risks of fraud. Some of what can appear remarkably cheap is only so because it’s counterfeit. It may look the part on screen, but that’s not the reality.

It can even have health and safety issues. Cancer is the least of your worries with some illicit tobacco and electronic goods can have catastrophic consequences. As for getting your cash back, if you don’t like it or it breaks down once it’s out the box, forget it.

But it’s also the effect upon communities. Counterfeit goods aren’t a victimless crime. It’s not just the taxman or big business that loses out. The shopkeeper paying rent and rates and trying to keep their business alive can’t compete. Staff who work there lose their jobs. Meanwhile, serious and organised crime with their local hirelings pocket the cash. Counterfeit goods come at a cost that we all pay for.

So it’s why a local trader is best. You can see what you’re getting and take it back if there’s an issue.