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Canadian trade association Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has partnered with social profit enterprise BarterPay to support retailers as they recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The organisations have launched a new C$25m ($19m) grant programme that will be awarded to Canadian retailers through Barter Credits, which are recognised as a cash equivalent by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Under the programme, a retailer can advertise its unsold time and space, or idle inventory, to BarterPay members in exchange for Barter Credits.

The Barter Credits can then be redeemed to acquire goods and services that would be useful to the company.

Once a retailer has earned 1,000 Barter Credits by trading inventory, BarterPay will give them a further 1,000 Barter Credits in the form of a grant.

BarterPay founder and CEO John Porter said: “The retail industry is suffering tremendously right now and we’re eager to help. Prior to Covid-19, all businesses had some spare capacity, but we’re in a situation right now where downtime and idle inventory is magnified.

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“It’s a tragedy to see so much product sitting idle where the value is not being monetised. By using BarterPay, retailers can capture the full value of slow-moving goods and then redeem them for what they need, all while keeping precious cash in the bank.

“The time is now for BarterPay to step up and deliver as much value as possible to Canada’s retail sector.”

RCC president and CEO Diane Brisebois said: “We are excited to partner with BarterPay on this innovative business model that will help retailers across Canada.

“This kind of transformative commerce initiated by BarterPay, along with the addition of this generous grant program, will complement the incredible creativity and resilience retailers have demonstrated throughout the pandemic to remain viable and serve their customers.”