Study shows Northern Ireland making best high street recovery in UK – Belfast News Letter

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The Spend Local scheme will close in 10 days’ time on December 14 and the public is being urged by Economy Minister Gordon Lyons to spend whatever remains on their cards as soon as possible.
Already, over £107million has been spent by cardholders across Northern Ireland in the retail, hospitality and service sectors.
Minister Lyons today welcomed new figures published by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) which show a boost to the number of people going into shops or businesses in October being continued in November following the introduction of the High Street Scheme.
The data shows that, in November, the number of shoppers in Northern Ireland reached their highest point so far compared to the pre-pandemic level.
This has led to Northern Ireland showing the best recovery in the UK with -5.2% on 2019 figures. The equivalent figures for England, Wales and Scotland were -15.7%, -16.7% and -19.8% respectively.
Minister Lyons said: “The aim of the High Street Scheme has been to stimulate local businesses, including retail, hospitality and service sector outlets, which had been hit hardest during the pandemic so I am delighted to see this research published by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.”
Aodhán Connolly, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director, said: “The High Street Card scheme is truly proving its value with a phenomenal bounce back in footfall across Northern Ireland. This is hugely welcome news for retailers who have had the toughest two years on record.”
Meanwhile independent MLA Claire Sugden has urged the Department for the Economy to ensure everyone who has applied for the Spend Local card receives it with enough time left to use it.
She said she had been contacted by numerous constituents, concerned that despite applying many weeks previously, they still had not received their cards.
“People are starting to get really concerned that they’re not going to get their card by the December 14 deadline,” Ms Sugden said.
“Often, the people ringing in have seen their spouse or partner receive theirs within a week or two, while they are still waiting more than a month later.”
She said the minister might have to consider extending the deadline.
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