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Encouraging indications that £100 high street voucher scheme in Northern Ireland has worked

There were strong arguments made in favour of a high street voucher scheme for Northern Ireland when it was proposed, and against.
© News Letter editorial
Among the arguments against was the fact that UK had already been flooded with Covid support mon…

There were strong arguments made in favour of a high street voucher scheme for Northern Ireland when it was proposed, and against.

(C) News Letter editorial

Among the arguments against was the fact that UK had already been flooded with Covid support money from the Treasury and that yet a further cash injection would merely help to push up prices. One of the key arguments in favour was that it would spur people not only to spend their GBP100 voucher but use to help fund larger purchases and so unlock further expenditure. That GBP500 item that you have your eye on does not sound so pricey if you can get it for GBP400.

There are now hopeful indications that the scheme has indeed worked in the way that was intended. Data from NI Retail Consortium suggests that in November the number of shoppers in the province reached its highest level since pre pandemic, down 5.2% on 2019 compared to 16%-20% down in England, Wales, Scotland. This is a hugely encouraging set of figures.

There are calls to extend the December 14 deadline for the vouchers, but the current end date still gives people 10 days to use their GBP100, after which there will the usual festive Christmas commerce and then new year sales footfall. Better to keep the sales date as it is and let seasonal momentum take over. Meanwhile, Stormont should continue to urge people to get jabbed so we can avoid the horror and social injustice of yet another lockdown.

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