Lyons plea as scheme to close

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has urged anyone with any balance left on their £100 Spend Local cards to use it now.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 13th December 2021, 7:39 am

With just six days to go before the High Street Scheme closes at midnight on Sunday, the minister warned time was running out to use the cards.

“There are just days left before the scheme closes on December 19,” he said.

“While the vast majority are using their cards, there are some who still need to activate and spend theirs.

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Gordon Lyons

“I am delighted that the High Street Scheme is working and our retail, hospitality and services sectors are witnessing an increase in customer numbers through their doors.

“The scheme is boosting our economy by an extra £2m on average every single day – that is over £121m so far. The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium has credited the scheme with boosting the number of shoppers on our high streets to their highest levels since before the pandemic.

“While this is a clear success, it is important to me and to our businesses that every penny on every card is spent in order to maximise the impact. This is the best way to ensure we support those businesses which were hit hardest by the pandemic. I urge everyone who has not used their card to the limit to check their balance and spend it all.”

Mr Lyons last week extended the deadline for applicants to use their Spend Local card by five days.

“We have received many positive stories and testimonies on the importance and the success of the High Street Scheme from individual businesses across all parts of Northern Ireland,” he said.

Gary Toal of Taylor and Toal optician in Antrim said his customer numbers are up due to the scheme.

He said: “We’ve seen new and existing clients come into our shop and we have further incentivised the scheme by giving a further discount of £50 off glasses. So the scheme is definitely worth it.

Customers are certainly spending more. September was quiet for us but we’ve seen a big increase in sales from mid-October onwards. Sales are up 50% on last year’s monthly figures.”

When an applicant receives their card, they must activate it through a computer-operated phone system or text message and make the first payment using a pin, before they can start to use it for contactless payments.