Consumers encouraged to spend local gift cards to support businesses reopening in Scotland

Town and City Gift Cards Spend It campaign

SCOTTISH fintech Miconex has launched a new Spend It campaign across its 17 Scottish Town and City Gift Card programmes, encouraging consumers to get out and spend local gift cards to support businesses reopening after the latest lockdown.

The campaign asks consumers to share where they have spent their local gift card, liking or following Town and City Gift Cards on Twitter or Facebook and tagging the company on their photo, to be put into a prize draw to win a £100 Town and City Gift Card of their choice.

Retail footfall in Scotland in the week to 1st May 2021 increased by 75% following the easing of lockdown restrictions on 26th April. Overall UK footfall saw a slight weekly decrease of 2%, at 74% of the equivalent week in 2019.

The reopening of restaurants, cafés and bars in Scotland on 26th April UK positively impacted on overall UK seated diner reservations on Saturday 1st May, at 71% of the equivalent Saturday in 2019, up 9% from the previous week. Meanwhile, the NHBF found that 10% of hair, beauty and barbering businesses have closed their doors for good during the pandemic, with an average loss of 45% of 2019 turnover.

Over 47,000 Town and City Gift Cards were purchased in 2020 across the 60 programmes in the UK and Ireland. Each gift card can be spent with a variety of businesses in a particular town or city- from retail and leisure to hospitality and services- and are designed to make it easy for customers to shop local, keeping money locked into an area and supporting businesses.

A business that has seen spend through its local Town and City Gift Cards scheme following the reopening of non-essential retail in Scotland is sports clothing store Donsport in Cumnock. Stewart Birrell, owner of Donsport said it’s vital that customers get out and spend their local gift cards:

“Like other non-essential retailers, we reopened on the 26th April. The loyalty we’ve had from our customers is very much appreciated. It means we can keep on employing our 5 members of staff and providing them with that job security. Shopping locally builds the community as one business supports the next.

“We’ve been involved with the East Ayrshire Gift Card from the start. People spend their gift cards on anything from children’s clothes and uniforms to new trainers and fishing equipment. We tend to find that when people spend their gift card, they either treat themselves to something special or maybe buy a slightly better version than what they would normally have bought.

“The great thing about the gift card is that customers can spend a little bit here and there, spreading that spend out in the community and helping more businesses. It is really important that people use their existing gift cards, even if there’s just a small amount left. Customers can scan the QR code on the gift card and check their balance really easily.

“We’ve had lots of sales through the East Ayrshire Gift Card, including cards through the East Ayrshire Council disbursement scheme where gift cards were given to families in need as part of their support care package campaign. The gift cards are really easy to accept. All of the businesses round here know how to accept them.

“People are fed up of buying clothes online and getting stuff delivered that isn’t what they anticipated. When you buy locally, shopkeepers are there to guide you through the process, helping you to get exactly what you need.”

The popularity of Town and City Gift Cards is attributed to the rise in use of multi-store gift cards and local shopping. The Gift Card and Voucher Association found that retail spend fell by 3.6% in 2020, the biggest drop in 50 years. Gift cards, however, remain popular. 76.3% have purchased a gift card in the last three years and uncertainty in UK retail has increased the popularity of multi-store gift cards, at 39.4% of gift cards in March 2021 vs. 32.4% in December 2020.

Self-gifting of gift cards is on the rise, with 31.8% purchasing a gift card for self-use over the past three years. 17.1% of gift card purchasers said supporting local businesses or the high street was a reason for them buying a gift card for themselves, increasing to 25.2% for 25-44 year olds. 19 new Town and City Gift Card programmes launched across the UK and Ireland between August and December 2020, as places sought to make local shopping easier, tapping into the desire to support local.

The new Spend It campaign from Miconex is part of its client success programme, helping places to maximise success for their programmes with multi-channel marketing campaigns. Over 400 towns and cities took part in Miconex’s Great Town and City Christmas Quiz in December 2020 to find the brainiest place in Britain and encourage people to spend locally. The competition attracted over 5000 entries with Camberley in Surrey taking the top spot followed by Scottish town Elgin.

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and commented: “Customers have taken the first step and purchased a local gift card, now is the time to spend it. A Town and City Gift Card is a piece of potential. The potential to support a small, independent business who has struggled through the last year. The potential to keep money locked into where you live and the potential to safeguard jobs, livelihoods and the vibrancy of where you live.

“Your local gift card can stay in your bag, wallet or in a drawer at home, or it can be turned into drinks with friends at your local, fish and chips on the seafront, a new outfit for the warmer weather to come or a long awaited haircut. Now is the time to get out and spend locally.”

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