The festive rush should be well under way in Johnstone but it seems the High Street is under attack from more than just frantic shoppers.

Like others, I read the bad news about Woolworths a few weeks back and then last week I see that the Bowie Castlebank Group – who own Munro Drycleaners and Klick Photopoint – had gone into administration.

All the above have been present in the town for as long as can remember. We can’t afford to lose stores that have been the mainstay of the town centre for decades.

Woolies, as it’s affectionately known, acts as a hub for the town and it’s a focus point for shoppers. Closure of that shop would leave more than a gap in the High Street façade.

I just wonder how many more shops on that stretch could cope without the draw of Woolworths bringing custom into the area.

Of course, there’s no easy solution to a global problem which has had a shake down effect for everyone. Jobs are under threat, fuel prices are high and of course there are significant problems in the housing markets.

Only a few pages before in the Gazette I read about Johnstone Credit Union and how that organisation has witnessed an increase in people coming through the doors.

My only disappointment is that it has taken the financial crisis to make people realise that Credit Unions are a great way to save and borrow and keep control of your finances.

Voluntary organisations like JCU have just as vital a role to play in the community as the mainstream banking organisations. Of course the big difference with a Credit Union is that the members are the beneficiaries and not some fat cat chief executive.

I suppose we must hope that the downturn doesn’t completely rip the heart out of our town centre and that people use organisations like Credit Unions to help negotiate their way through difficult times.