Diane Dodds was speaking after the High Street Task Force met in Portadown recently.
Mrs Dodds also raised warned of the impact Covid passports would have on local businesses.
Speaking after the meeting in the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Mrs Dodds explained the High Street Task Force was formed with a view to identify the challenges and issues that our High Streets face, and to oversee the development of solutions and actions that can support our High Streets as we move into an era of unprecedented economic change.
Mrs Dodds welcomed the visit of the team to Portadown saying: “I was encouraged to see the team from the Executive Office visit Portadown to hear the views of local retailers, council officers and other interested parties.
“The work of this task force is vital and will help our local towns and High Streets respond to changing consumer trends and economic challenges.
“However, I am deeply concerned that the task force failed to sufficiently engage local retailers.
“The findings of this group will be incremental in developing a strategy for our local town centres moving forward,” she said.
“It is essential that the task force engage local retailers to ensure that their views are represented and contribute to the solutions and actions needed to revitalise our local economy.”
Mrs Dodds also warned against impact of Covid Passports on local businesses.
“Planning for the future of our High Streets is a necessary and vital action. However, we must also discuss the immediate problems facing our local High Streets.”
“The Covid Passport System has caused significant uncertainty for business. As we enter the busy festive period, the effects of the Passport System will starve businesses of vital trade and income.”
“I urge the Executive Office and Department of Health to rethink this scheme and consider the deeper impacts that will be felt by our local retailers.”
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