The government’s Triple Stimulus Vouchers helped boost Taiwan’s retail sector last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday as it unveiled the final tally for the program.
The ministry’s statistics showed that 23.32 million people in Taiwan, or 99 percent of the population, participated in the program, claiming either paper or digital vouchers.
The ministry said that 99.6 percent of the vouchers, or NT$64.28 billion (US$2.25 billion), were redeemed by vendors.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Administration of the vouchers program, including printing and distribution, cost more than NT$2 billion, it said.
Department of Commerce Deputy Director-General Chen Mi-shun (陳秘順) said that the retail sector made a remarkable recovery after the launch of the program in the middle of July last year, which put NT$3,000 of vouchers in the pockets of eligible people.
“After five consecutive months of negative growth, the retail sector’s sales returned to positive territory in July last year, and there were record sales in the sector from August to November,” Chen said.
As the savings rate in Taiwan, is high, a cash stimulus would have gone into bank accounts or other investments, he said.
Marginalized and low-income groups received the vouchers without having to pay, he said.
“We designed the program to minimize the substitution effect and maximize the multiplication effect,” Chen said. “Once the vouchers were spent, those who received them could use them again.”
The substitution effect is when people used the vouchers on something they would have purchased without the program.
However, an informal survey showed that most used the vouchers to treat themselves.
“I got some nicer tea bags than I would have otherwise, and my boyfriend and I went out for a fancy meal,” a woman surnamed Huang (黃) said. “We were more willing to spend the vouchers.”
Others surveyed said that they took advantage of the vouchers to buy a new camera at a discount with a voucher-only deal or on convenience store gift cards.
Donovan Watson, an English teacher living in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店), went to Zara and bought clothing on an impulse.
Watson said that he was surprised, but appreciative that foreigners who are permanent residents were included in a later round of the program.
National Central University economist Dachran Wu (吳大任) said that the program had a positive effect and was one of the factors that helped the turnaround in the retail sector.
“After being cooped up for COVID-19 and with no way to leave the country, everybody wanted some revenge shopping,” Wu said.
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