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Christmas is the very best time spoil yourself and the people you love.
This year, the ACT Government are chipping in to help spread the cheer, providing free discount vouchers for a range of Canberra businesses across retail, tourism, accommodation, arts and recreation, personal services and hospitality sectors.
These are some of the local industries that have been hardest hit by the arrival of COVID and the associated restrictions which led to cancelled events, reduced capacity, delayed launches and reduced trade.
By 1 December, more than 15,000 Canberrans had signed up for the ChooseCBR digital discount initiative, with a great range of businesses taking part in the program, which will run from 9 to 21 December 2020 (or until the $500,000 government investment runs out).
“We know that for every $1 of government spending through ChooseCBR, businesses will benefit between $4 and $6,” says Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Tara Cheyne.
“So businesses that are involved have a real opportunity to get a boost in the lead up to the holiday period.”
Anyone over the age of 18 can sign up, and each day you’ll receive $40 worth of ChooseCBR discounts to use that day, comprised of:
- 2 x $2.50 discount on a minimum transaction of $10
- 1 x $5 discount on a minimum transaction of $20
- 1 x $10 discount on a minimum transaction of $40
- 1 x $20 discount on a minimum transaction of $80
The program is welcome news for both households and businesses across Canberra — many of whom are feeling the stress or financial squeeze caused by COVID-19.
Not only will the program boost the economy, but it also allows businesses to reach a new audience — and customers a chance to broaden their horizons.
“The government has been very generous with everything so far and this simple concept is a great addition,” says Steven Elliot, co-owner of A Bite to Eat in Chifley.
“As a business, we may see some new customers out of the campaign, or see our current clientele treat themselves that little bit extra.”
While many of us will undoubtedly flock to cafés and restaurants to spend our vouchers (it is the festive season, after all), the program also presents the chance to enjoy some arts and culture, or perhaps indulge in a little extra Christmas shopping.
“As with the whole arts and cultural sector, 2020 has been incredibly challenging for us across the board, with our galleries closing to the public, classes and workshops cancelled, and all events put on hold,” says Jack Lloyd, Executive Director and Co-CEO of Belco Arts.
“It’s been such a hard year for so many people, so anything that can make Christmas a little merrier I think is fantastic.”
Lloyd says it’s the perfect time of the year to visit Belco Arts (or their online store) and use your discount on a purchase.
“We’re really excited that as part of the ChooseCBR program, and coming into Christmas, this is a fantastic opportunity for the Canberra community to support local makers, find some unique gifts for friends and family, all while saving a bit on the holiday shopping.”
Reduced households budgets are one of the reasons that businesses like Metaphysica, a virtual reality escape room in Mitchell, have struggled since the arrival of COVID.
“It really kicked us around hard,” says owner Shannon Pickles.
“We’re an entertainment business, and that’s one of the things that people will stop spending on first. Everyone’s balance books are so much tighter, so if you’re looking at one thing to cut, you’re not going to go to the movies, you’re not going to go bowling, you’re not going to go to that new virtual reality escape room because you’ve got less money and you need to buy food and pay rent.”
While Christmas may be the season of giving, after the year that’s been, there’s nothing wrong with splurging on yourself—particularly if it means boosting a Canberra business along the way.
“It’s Christmas time, everyone should be treating themselves,” says Pickles.
“If the government is willing to go out of their way to give people free vouchers to go out and do fun stuff or get free food, then you absolutely should do it. It’s a great way of supporting local business and supporting Canberra as well.”
Interestingly the December rollout is a trial which will be evaluated with the intention of a possible full rollout next year.
Discounts can be used from today up until 21 December 2020, unless the $500,000 investment runs out sooner—every reason to sign up now and get spending!
Feature image: DOS Emporium. Credit: VisitCanberra/Nathan Harradine Hale