According to Retail NI, shoppers need to be “patient” when applying for Northern Ireland’s main street coupon scheme ahead of applications starting Monday.
The retail group said the public should consider filing their applications later in the week and spreading the request on the online portal before the expected rush to apply on the first day.
Around 1.4 million people will qualify for the £100 prepaid card to spend.
Anyone over the age of 18 will be able to apply for the program, which can be spent in “brick and mortar” businesses that use a card machine with card, swipe and pin capability.
The program opens Monday for applications on the NI Direct website and the deadline for coupon application is October 25. The card cannot be used after 30 November.
The plan, which is expected to cost £145m to implement across Northern Ireland, is intended to provide a significant fall boost to the retail and hospitality industry following the damage done by Covid.
“If people can wait a few days before submitting their applications, hopefully we can avoid any delays or problems with the online portal and they will receive their coupons on time,” said Glyn Roberts, chief of retail NI.
“We’re going to have some problems with this ambition and a plan of magnitude, and we will encourage shoppers to be patient.”
“As the plan opens and consumers consider how to spend their coupons, we encourage them to use it with local independent retailers. 70p for every pound spent with an independent retailer is recycled in the economy, supporting local producers and producers.”
Anyone applying for the card is expected to receive their card after seven to 10 days.
Last week, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons urged local businesses in the hospitality and retail industry to “show their support” for the upcoming programme.
The minister encouraged eligible businesses to display a series of promotional materials encouraging shoppers to spend the coupon to support local retailers, and an advertising campaign launched to encourage shoppers to support local businesses.
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