There are innumerable ways to part with your money along the Uxbridge Road. Dozens of restaurants, supermarkets, clothes shops, thrift stores and the occasional bookies vye for your pound along this west London artery.
But the experts say Londoners are about to stop spending, casting the future of independent businesses into doubt. Many stores are braced for cutbacks or closure.
The carpet shop . Gray & Lowe's opened 55 years ago. Phil Olney, managing director:
"I've worked here for 26 years and we've seen the economy go up and down. Right now it's as bad as it's ever been. We have a good local reputation and regular customers, which keeps us going. I feel for the new businesses, or people with lots of debts. What's tricky is that when consumers stop spending you have still to keep prices low or lose even more business. That's one of the factors that hurts. We started to feel the pinch a bit when people stopped buying and renovating homes, but we also have long-term contracts which should see us through. I guess it's a question of being careful at times like these, not stocking too much in case it doesn't sell. There are hard times ahead I suspect, but things will pick up. For the last 10 years borrowing has been out of control and there are lots of Londoners who have never experienced a downturn in the economy. Will that change the culture for a bit and how people think about money? I suspect so."
The cafe , cafe tuga opened two years ago.Paulo Mendes, owner.
"The credit crunch is everywhere. It was on a news bulletin the other day when a customer asked me to turn it off, because it's too depressing, I changed the channel and there it was again. But fingers crossed my business will be ok. Of course I am worried, but we offer good value food and drink so perhaps people who used to spend £20-30 in a restaurant before will come in here and have some of our food for £3-5. Westfield is also opening and, for a business like mine at least, more people in the area should only be a good thing. But you never know, they may just stay in the shopping centre. I would like to see business rates come down to help us through, but I don't think that's going to happen. I don't know what to expect, but I think that we are in good shape to survive."
The cycle store , open for decades. Daniel Campbell, manager.
"Strangley, the last couple of weeks have been pretty good, odd when all we're hearing is about how the economy is falling to pieces. Maybe new bike orders have dipped of a bit, but our workshop has been busy. I think people are dusting off their old bikes and bringing them in for a new saddle or tyres, rather than buying new ones. If it all gets really bad, maybe people will use their cars less and turn to bikes? I'm too young to know what it's like to live in a recession so it all sounds a bit far off to me at the minute. But from what the newspapers are saying we're in for a hard time, maybe it'll mean I spend less money down the pub, but I doubt it!"
The supermarket - Al-abbas, open seven years. Amjid Latif manager.
Business open for seven years
"We're doing fine. We've got a great spot on the corner and everybody knows us. Luckily there are no big cheap supermarkets like Asda or Tesco nearby so people come to us and the other markets to buy their food. We're looking at two for one deals to help our customers out, but I think we're pretty good value already. People come here for that and they will always need to eat. As long as we adapt to what they need, I think we'll do ok."
The deli - Naama halal butcher and deli, opened five years ago. Moussa Merhi, owner.
"Business is very bad. I have lost perhaps 30 or 40 per cent of my usual custom over the last three weeks. People are scared to spend and shops feel that quickly. Everyone is watching their wallet, and I think the media coverage has played a big part in that. I've had to let one staff member go, and may lose another two. I don't want to do it, but there is a chance I will have to shut the business unless I make cuts now. Our meat is good quality and that is reflected in the price, so some customers may go elsewhere for cheaper, lower quality meat. Restaurants are my big customers and they are empty along this road, so my orders are down too. Everything is connected. The council is no help. They make all this noise about cutting council tax, but they have done things like increase the cost of collecting rubbish to £300. It all adds up when business is slow."
What can we do?
Don't panic, make a budget, stick to it and whatever you do - don't get into more debt, is the advice of personal finance specialist Theresa Awosika as we enter hard times.
Desperate calls to her employer Chas Central London, a Marylebone-based charity giving free debt-management advice, have surged over the last few months as Londoners struggle to repay mortagages, credit cards and bills.
"We're a debt-laden society and as people lose their jobs, sadly more and more of us will struggle to cover our debts," she says.
"That's when panic sets in and people do silly things like take out emergency loans, often at up to 20 per cent interest. We will see more re-possessions, evictions and bankruptcies. But that can often be avoided if the right steps are taken early on."
Unemployed people struggling to meet mortgage repayments may qualify for benefit to pay the interest and can then apply for housing benefit to help meet the rest of the cost while they look for work, she explains.
"People in credit card debt should come to us and we'll help them with a letter to freeze interest payments or penalties with their bank, restructure their payments and work out a payment plan.
"It can feel lonely and impossible but there are ways to help yourself stay out off major trouble. If you are in financial trouble the key is to stop spending and whatever the circumstances, do not get into any more debt."
For advice or to make an appointment call Chas CL on 020 7723 5928 www.chascl.org.uk