BALLYMENA’S now famous Discount Day – one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the town – has been ‘postponed’ because of the pandemic.
It is traditionally held on the first Thursday of November when bargain hunters descend from near and far and many people often use the occasion to kick-start their Christmas shopping.
In the past shoppers have travelled from as far away as the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.
Discount Day, which would have been due to have been held on Thursday November 5 this year, falls in the period of the current four week period of enhanced restrictions regarding the pandemic which has seen pubs and cafes closed to sit-in customers
However, officials are currently describing the move as a ‘postponement’ and say they will review the matter at the end of the current period and see if it is possible to re-schedule an event before the end of November.
Traders stress they will still be open for business on Thursday November 5 just like other shopping days in the run up to Christmas.
‘Ballymena Daily’ has seen a letter which has been distributed to town centre businesses.
In the letter, headlined ‘Discount Day Postponement’, the Ballymena BID (Business Improvement District) Manager Emma McCrea said consultations had taken place involving traders, council officials and others ahead of postponing this year’s event.
The letter says: ‘While we understand the importance of the Discount Day event to traders it was clear that we cannot be seen to encourage unnecessary travel into the town from outside the borough.
‘The safety of our customers and staff is paramount and based on this we have reluctantly made the decision to postpone the planned Discount Day event at this time.
‘We will review this at the end of the current restrictions with the hope of re-scheduling an event later in the month,” said the letter.
The letter says in ‘order to mitigate’ the disappointment surrounding Discount Day a ‘shop local’ message will be boosted this week.
Ms McCrea’s letter continues: ‘As a town we have been through so much over the last few months, yet we have held our heads high, continued to smile and been mindful of the wellbeing of our shoppers and staff.
‘We are all in this together so let’s do everything we can to trade safely and encourage people to ‘shop local, shop safe and shop Ballymena’,’ the letter said.
It is understood some businesses still intend to offer discounts at the time of Discount Day.