The Minister said: “To date, over 1.024 million cards have been dispatched, over 580,000 of these have been activated.
“Over £26.5m has now been injected into our local economy. These are quite remarkable statistics and, while it is still early days, I think it is fair to say the process of recovery on our high streets is now under way.
“It remains the case that most people have four weeks to spend their card, but I recognise that this will not be the case for everyone.
“Therefore in order to offer these applicants a fair timescale to use their card, I can today announce that I am extending the deadline to use the Spend Local cards by two weeks - from November 30 to December 14. I know this is something that MLAs have requested and I am happy to agree. This will mean that the vast majority of people will have at least four weeks to use their card.”
The Minister said that in order to maximise the benefit to local businesses including retail, hospitality and service sectors, it is vitally important that everyone spends the full £100 on their Spend Local card. He said the extra two-week period will also allow card holders who have some balance left on their card, no matter how small, to spend it in local businesses.
He went on to say: “For anyone who has any balance left on their card, no matter how small, my message is: please go out and spend it locally. Buy a coffee, a breakfast, a newspaper or magazine, or even a small present for someone this Christmas. Maximise the Spend Local card. Every penny spent will help.
“The objective of the High Street Scheme is to stimulate recovery in our local businesses by encouraging increased spending rather than online. By extending the deadline to use the Spend Local card, we can encourage more people to purchase Christmas presents, Christmas decorations and even food for Christmas dinner in their local area rather than online.”