South east London has some really good high streets. And if they aren't brilliant just yet, they are certainly emerging. What's happing in Forest Hill and Kirkdale right now is a totally perfect example. It shows what can happen to an area when people get together and work hard to improve their community.

Forest Hill won the Portas Pilot grant in the summer alongside project support from retail queen Mary Portas. The aim is to improve awarded high streets and change community behaviour towards them for good. This Christmas, SE23's empty shop units are being transformed into pop-up shops and community hubs are open for business start-up advice and training.

Shopping local is cool. In fact, buying from local independent shops is even cooler. When we spend £1 in our high street butcher, that £1 transacts another five times in the area. Local businesses tend to trade with other local companies which helps support the area’s economy, aiding growth by driving cash straight back into the area and keeping it there. When your cash stays closer to home, it goes towards things that make your community better like leisure centres, parks and libraries. Compare that to a high street chain in your area, where your £1 will change hands locally just once more.

Customer experience can be a smoother ride with a local trader - they have to respond to customers' wishes in order to survive. National chains tend to have deeply cemented bureaucratic systems that mean their staff are simply unable to react directly to customers' suggestions and requests.

Eco-friendly? Like, yeah. Not only can you probably walk to the shops on your high street it's highly likely they sell locally sourced stock, driving down the need to transport goods.

How many times do these traders get hit up for a school fair hamper? You can bet they are far more likely to support or sponsor community causes and charities. Oh, and they also provide local jobs of course.

Corr. Who doesn't prefer looking at a bit of nice frontage? The loveliest towns in the UK are the ones stuffed full of charming independent shops that add character.

If you own your home, shopping locally supports your immediate area and will help keep your biggest investment secure. People will always want to live in areas where they can walk to good amenities and community bonds are strong.