MY heart goes out to the families and businesses that have been affected by the torrential rain which has resulted in so many parts of our region being flooded.

The flooding has been terrible for those affected – homes, schools and the retailers.

It’s a time when we all need to support and rally around in trying to assist in getting things back normal.

It certainly has not been the best of starts to the new year for some.

However, the long-range weather forecast is that it may be the last of heavy rain for the time being with more routine showers and sunny spells predicted – not that I am a weatherman, although I may be as reliable.

I do hope you all had a great break over Christmas. Retail seemed to be the main topic, as to how the year would end.

Discounters have clearly benefited from shoppers’ desires to save money over the Christmas period and the start of the new year.

It’s interesting to see some of the supermarket results being announced in the last few days.

Aldi and Lidl have enjoyed their best ever Christmas for sales, while some of our upmarket food stores, such as Waitrose and Marks and Spencer’s are expected to have fared well. Further pressure on the likes of Tesco and Asda, Sainsbury and Morrison’s.

Love or hate shopping, there was nothing like the January sales – queuing for hours before storming the doors at opening time, sadly a thing of the past.

The difference today is: one, the sales seem to start long before Christmas, so we never know if we really have that bargain or not.

And two, as the war continues to rage between online and bricks-and-mortar stores, it illustrates just how critical it is for retailers to invest in online routes to market.