The Scarborough Gift Card, part of the Town and City Gift Card programme, is being introduced with the hope of protecting the town’s economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initiative is supported by local organisations including the Scarborough and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID), Scarborough Council and the York and North Yorkshire Growth Hub.
All businesses in the town centre are eligible to participate in the programme for free, and around 30 businesses, including larger chain stores and independent retailers, have already signed up. The gift card can be spent on retail, leisure, hospitality and services in the town centre.
Growth Hub manager for York and North Yorkshire, Andrew Raby, said the card will allow people to support their favourite local businesses, while also giving gifts that will benefit both the recipient and the local community.
“Our greatest hope is that this will not just be a one-off scheme to help our local businesses to weather a storm,” said Raby, “but it will become the new way people choose to spend their money, using their spending power to support local businesses.”
Raby said the Yorkshire businesses impacted by the pandemic had been “very badly hit”, adding that visitor attractions, accommodation providers and many others had suffered disproportionately.
Marketing company Miconex, responsible for the Town and City Gift Cards programme, also has gift card programmes in Harrogate, York, Sheffield, and Halifax. Another programme will be introduced in Barnsley in December.
Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said the programmes would help fix the “leaky bucket of money seeping out of towns and cities”.
He added: “over £1.5 million has been spent through Town and City Gift Card programmes so far, £70,000 in Yorkshire, and with the new gift card schemes in Scarborough and Barnsley, that figure will just keep on rising.”
According to data from the Town and City Gift Card programmes, people spend an average of £34.56 when they buy a gift card, but recipients might spend up to 65 percent more on top of that.
Munro said he wanted to encourage people to shop locally before turning to companies such as Amazon. “There are 5.4 million residents in Yorkshire, if just 500,000 of those purchased or were given a £10 local gift card, £5 million would be locked into the Yorkshire economy.”
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Janet Jefferson, president of the Scarborough and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said there were no downsides to being a part of the scheme, and it would encourage recipients to shop at places they hadn’t been to before.
Jefferson added: “It is an opportunity for people to reconnect with their town and remember what a fantastic range of products and services we have in the town centre, from our high street retailers to our independents, harnessing that sense of civic pride in our town”.
Kerry Carruthers, chief executive at Yorkshire Coast BID, said they were already looking at a gift card scheme for the coast to “try and lock in local spend”, so were pleased to be given the opportunity to trial the project in Scarborough for the next three years.
Stage one of the project will take place in Scarborough town centre, and it is hoped it can be expanded to businesses further outside the town. Carruthers is keen for this to happen, but hopes more town centre businesses will sign up first.
“Now more than ever we all need to find ways to support retailers, and what better way to support local businesses and give family and friends the perfect Christmas present…the gift of choice!”
The York and North Yorkshire Growth Hub is given funding by the central government to support local businesses, and Raby believes the gift card scheme is “an ideal opportunity to offer further help” to the most hard-hit businesses.
He says the scheme in Scarborough has real potential, and would consider working with other areas in the region to introduce similar projects. Carruthers agreed, saying that Yorkshire Coast BID would love to see the card operating across the entire Yorkshire coast.
Miconex is also working with Welcome to Yorkshire on a tourism sector gift card which can be purchased online and delivered straight to the recipient with a gift message, or can be redeemed in person once traders are open again.
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