YEP Says (December 26): A country walk? Forget it - we’re off to the shops!

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HERE we go again.

After the manic rush to Christmas, there was the nano-second of a pause before it resumed again today with the traditional Boxing Day sales.

This frenzy makes calls to question Napoleon’s assertion that Britain was “a nation of shopkeepers”.

He was only partially right – the UK is now a nation of shoppers searching for the best bargains morning, noon and night as the major sales all blur into one.

What did happen to that special time when Christmas Day and Boxing Day were sacrosanct – and what does it say about modern life when people cannot survive for two days without going to the shops?

Still, in economic terms, bargain-hunters flocking to shopping centres contrasts with those depressing festive periods which were dominated by the closure of iconic retailers.

It is why Trinity Leeds is emblematic of Yorkshire’s recovery. This is a retail complex which had to be put on hold when the banks and economy imploded with costly repercussions for consumer confidence.

However, since opening its doors in March 2013, it has become a symbol of the resurgence being enjoyed by Leeds and the rest of Yorkshire as more families benefit from the sustained fall in unemployment.

Yet, while the shopping frenzy will be regarded as a vote of confidence in George Osborne’s economic strategy as he reconfigures the public finances and reduces Britain’s debt burden, the latest GDP figures offer a salutary warning that the recovery is still in its infancy.

With the Office of National Statistics announcing – unexpectedly – that levels of growth were less than forecast between April and October, it leaves the Chancellor with very little room for manoeuvre. If this trend continues in 2016, it increases the likelihood of further spending cuts – and tax increases.

This “double whammy” could be avoided if Mr Osborne can turn his Northern Powerhouse rhetoric into reality. For, with growth here still lagging behind the rest of the UK, the untapped potential is immense if the Treasury – and local council leaders – can finally agree a devolution plan which empowers the whole county. If they do find common ground, this region will look forward to 2016 with even more optimism.

Chris Miller by his graffiti in East End Park.

YEP Says: Work of art Leeds? Or an ugly scrawl?