Northern Irish shoppers are being encouraged to use their £100 High Street Scheme Spend Local cards in independent retailers.

The pre-paid cards were made available to all Northern Ireland residents over the age of 18 in a bit to encourage spending on the high street. All cards will expire at the end of November 2021.

As the cards are now being sent out, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA has launched Retail NI’s ‘Spend it Independent” campaign which encourages the public to make a special effort to use their £100 ‘Spend Local’ pre-paid cards with independent retailers.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts welcomed the roll-out of the scheme. “The High Street Scheme is a very welcome step in the long road to recovery for Northern Ireland’s independent retail sector. Local traders are the backbone of local communities and contribute significantly to the Northern Irish economy. The last 18 months have posed enormous challenges to local retailers, and by spending it independent, you are maximizing the impact that the High Street Scheme will have on the local economy.

“When using spend local card, it must be remembered that a little spend will have a big effect. For every £1 spent in an independent retailer, for example, 70p is recycled around the local economy. By using your £100 to support local traders, you are ensuring that every penny goes towards boosting your local community, high street, or town centre.

“With the £100 Cards starting to be delivered to households across Northern Ireland, I would encourage everyone to Spend It Independent and give local independent retailers the support and boost they truly deserve.”

Economy Minister, Gordon Lyons MLA added: “As the Spend Local cards start to land in homes across Northern Ireland, my message to everyone who receives theirs is ‘spend local’. Please use your card to support your local shops, hospitality and other services which have been most affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.

“The objective of the £145m High Street Scheme is to boost local businesses following the drop in footfall brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. By giving everyone aged 18 and over in Northern Ireland a pre-paid card worth £100 to spend in local high businesses, we will encourage many more customers back through the doors of local retail, hospitality and services.

“By applying, receiving and ultimately spending your Spend Local card in local businesses such as shops, hospitality and other services before November 30, you will be doing your bit to support your local businesses.”