The gift card scheme will be available to businesses across Sunderland.
SUNDERLAND is the first city in the North East to launch its own gift card scheme, in a bid to boost its local economy.
The city’s Business Improvement District (Bid) and council have teamed up with Miconex, who have created successful gift card schemes in 50 UK towns and cities including York, Leicester, Southport, Edinburgh, Southport and Salisbury, which it says have been well received and proven an effective way to support local traders.
A range of businesses are invited to sign up for the scheme – including those in hospitality, retail, experiential and professional services – which will allow the cards to be spent at their venues.
As well as supporting the local economy by encouraging people to spend their money in the city, the gift cards also provide a perfect solution for Christmas and birthday presents for those ‘hard to buy for’ friends.
It is a particularly hard time for small businesses at the moment, especially for those who have had to close due to Covid-19.
“There’s never been a more important time for people to shop local,” said Sharon Appleby, head of business operations at Sunderland Bid, “and the Sunderland Gift Card is a fantastic way to do that, with the added bonus of having a whole host of options where it can be spent.
“We are now hoping that businesses will get behind the scheme and sign up, ahead of its official launch mid-November.
“We chose Miconex because the company has a proven track record in delivering gift cards schemes and were a perfect fit for what we wanted to achieve in Sunderland.”
The Sunderland Gift Card is part of the Reopening High Streets Safely project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The project is also receiving up to £244,835 from the ERDF as part of the European Structural and Investment Growth Programme.
Sunderland Council leader Graeme Miller is encouraging people to join the scheme and buy the card. “Dozens of cities and towns across the country have similar gift cards and there’s lots of good reasons for Sunderland having one too,” he said.
“If you’re gifting and buying with one of these cards, then you’re helping keep somebody in work in Sunderland, you’re supporting Sunderland and helping keep money in the city, not just an online business or a company that may have little or no physical presence here.”
Coun Miller added: “I know people feel very strongly about our city centre and this card really does show and demonstrate that you’re supporting and spending in the city of Sunderland.
“This is a card that’s not just for Christmas.”
Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said the Sunderland Gift Card is a positive move for the city.
“There are around 340,000 people living in Sunderland. If half of those residents purchased, or were given, a £10 Sunderland gift card that would be £1.7million locked into the city. The average salary in Sunderland is £26,000 – that is 65 jobs supported,” he said.
“Most cards that are purchased for Christmas will be spent in January, which is traditionally a quiet time for traders. We might be into lockdown once more, but this is a way to still support local traders by giving Sunderland Gift Card as a Christmas gift, or to use once businesses open again.”
The cards can be accepted anywhere that takes Mastercard and can be purchased for amounts between £5 and £500.
Any business wanting to sign up should contact firstname.lastname@example.org