Ms Lee, who is also the vice-president of the Ang Mo Kio Constituency Merchants’ Association, said she has been advising merchants to attract customers to spend the vouchers.
“I encourage other merchants to try and give more freebies so that (shoppers) can use (the vouchers), maybe as a gift, or token. If you are not using them yourself, you can always give to needy families,” Ms Lee said.
Other than food and drinks, Ms Lee said her association has observed consumers mostly using the vouchers for essential items such as pharmaceuticals and groceries.
CURRENT VOUCHERS EXPIRE SOON
More than S$218 million worth of CDC vouchers were spent at participating merchants over the past two years. The vouchers were aimed at helping to boost heartland businesses while offsetting the higher cost of living.
About 10 per cent of the vouchers have not been spent, according to the CDCs last week, and they will expire on Dec 31, 2022.
“We are encouraging all residents who have not utilised the CDC vouchers to use them by the end of this month,” said Mr Lai Cheng Yi, executive director of The Federation of Merchants’ Associations (FMAS).
“We are also encouraging all merchants to even tell your customers who come into your shop to purchase things, that they can utilise some of the CDC vouchers before the year ends,” he added.
Singaporean households can also opt to donate their remaining CDC vouchers to charity. This can be done via the CDC vouchers scheme website until Jan 31 next year.
HEARTLAND SHOPS GO DIGITAL
The majority of merchants in Singapore today have adopted channels of cashless payments, but according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, about 7 per cent of shop owners have not. Therefore, these merchants are also unable to accept the CDC vouchers.
Some retailers believe a new digital payment system is unnecessary as many of their older customers only use cash, said Mr Lai.
“A lot of them do tell me that ‘hey, you know what, I have a lot of traditional customers who come into my shops and they only want to use cash’,” said Mr Lai.
“So I have no need for digital payments. I have no need for e-vouchers.”
Mr Lai said his organisation is urging these businesses to change their mindset and embrace the digital age. He added that not having a digital channel of payment may deter younger shoppers from visiting their shops.
“There is nothing for you to lose. By opening up these e-payments, you are actually opening a new revenue stream where you can tap on the younger generation who are less inclined to bring cash around with them today,” he said.
He added that the federation will continue efforts to get all heartland shops to go digital.