Just one week left to spend it local

Date published: 12 December 2021

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

With just seven days to go before the High Street Scheme closes at midnight on 19 of December, the Minister said:

“Time is running out. There are just days left before the scheme closes on 19 December. While the vast majority are using their cards, there are some who still need to activate and spend theirs. Now is the time to spend it local.

“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.”

Earlier this week, the Minister extended the deadline for applicants to use their Spend Local card by five days to midnight on 19 December. This was to allow more time for those people who received their card later to spend it.

The Minister added:

“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.”

Lynsey Cleland is one of those traders whose business was impacted by the pandemic. She says the High Street Scheme helped her shop bounce back.

She said:

“As a small family-run salon we have certainly felt the pinch during the past year or so. However, thanks to the High Street Scheme we have experienced a much needed and very welcome economic boost over the past few weeks. The Spend Local card coupled with the additional discount we have provided have resulted in new and existing clients coming into the salon and purchasing products they might otherwise not have been able to afford, with the result our takings have increased by an average of 10 per cent per week.”

Gary Toal of Taylor and Toal optician in Antrim said his customer numbers are also 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.”

The Minister concluded:

“The clock is ticking until the scheme closes but there is still time to support your local businesses. So, spend it now, spend it all and spend it local.”

The Minister also reminded cardholders that as well as spending local, they can also support businesses through shopping safely by wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing and using contactless payment where possible.

Cardholders can check their balance, view transaction history, terms and conditions or find answers to frequently asked questions relating to the cards by visiting the DfE Spend Local page.

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.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The High Street Scheme closes on December 19 when the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid.
  2. The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium research is available on its website.
  3. The Department is required under Section 75 to monitor the implementation of its policies which includes collecting data on age, sex and disability.
  4. When an applicant receives their card, they will need to activate the card 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.
  5. The cards can be used in all participating businesses in Northern Ireland. They cannot be used online or for gambling or some financial and legal services.
  6. The telephone support service opened on 11 October. The later opening of the telephone service was implemented to encourage more people to apply online when the portal opened on 27 September and avoid using the phone line leaving it available for those who did not have access to, or were not able to use, the internet. It closed at 6pm on October 25.
  7. The Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan is available on the Department's ERAP website.
  8. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the Department’s internal records management system. The Department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
  9. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:
    Twitter – @Economy_NI
    Facebook – @EconomyNI
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    LinkedIn – Department for the Economy NI
  10. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk
  11. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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