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Town centres seek to keep trade local with surge in gift card schemes

Gaelle Walker
03 November 2020

A growing number of UK towns and cities are launching local gift cards ahead of the peak festive shopping season, in a bid to encourage shoppers to spend money locally rather than simply turning online.  

Canterbury in Kent will become the 46th place to operate its own local gift card scheme when it launches the Canterbury Gift Card tomorrow (4 November).

Canterbury’s Business Improvement District (BID) expects the card, which can be pre-loaded with any given amount, to be a popular gift for Christmas 2020, helping to mitigate some of the negative impact of the summer lockdown and further restrictions set to be introduced this week.

More than 90 local businesses, including shops and restaurants have already signed up to the scheme, with more joining each day, Canterbury (BID) chief executive Lisa Carlson told theIndustry.Fashion

“We wanted to find a way to help people to shop locally and keep money within the local community rather than just turning to the likes of Amazon,” she said.

“We learned a lot of lessons during the first lockdown about how shoppers wanted to support their local businesses and we are confident that this new scheme will help to meet those needs and support local enterprise at a time that it needs it most.”

Colin Munro, managing director of Scottish tec firm Miconex, which helped to develop the scheme, added: “Most businesses see Christmas as an opportunity to bring in sales that will see them through the leaner months.

“In 2020, this is even more vital for them. Whilst Amazon is estimated to have netted $7bn in sales on Prime Day, small businesses are facing a real struggle for survival.

“Canterbury Gift Cards purchased for Christmas will tend to be redeemed in the first three months of the year, a quieter time for merchants. A gift card purchase is like money in the bank for them.”

The town of Preston in Lancashire is also gearing up for the launch of the Preston Gift Card later this month to encourage local spending and aid the recovery of the city centre.

Independent Preston retailer Omar Mitha, of Ocean Designer Menswear, was one of the first to sign up to accept the new Preston Gift Card. “We’re passionate about Preston and to see our city succeed,” he said.

“We’ll be accepting the card as a payment method and would encourage other businesses to back the BID and sign up to accept it too, so we, as a community, can see more monies kept within our local community”.

A similar scheme is also being launched in Bury St Edmunds and on the Isle of Wight this month.

The city of York operates one of the largest gift card schemes in the UK, with almost 300 local businesses currently signed up.

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