Sunderland has become the first city in the North East to launch its own gift card scheme, as part of its on-going commitment to boosting the local economy.
The Sunderland Gift Card is being pioneered by Sunderland City Council and Sunderland BID, which has teamed up with Miconex, the company running the successful Town and City Gift Card scheme at major locations around the country.
And now businesses of all types – including hospitality, retail, experiential and professional services – are being invited to sign up for the scheme, which will allow the cards to be spent at their venues.
The cards will enable the recipients to spend the value at a whole range of outlets citywide, which could include cinemas, shops, beauty salons, hairdressers, restaurants and bars.
Along with providing the ideal solution for “hard to buy for” friends, family and colleagues, the cards will also act as a way to encourage people to spend their money in the city – and so support the local economy.
“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.”
The Sunderland Gift Card is part of the Reopening High Streets Safely project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Miconex has created successful gift card schemes in 50 towns and cities including York, Leicester, Southport, Edinburgh, Southport and Salisbury, where it has been well received and proven a great way to support local traders.
“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,” said Sharon.
Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council encouraged people to join the scheme – and to purchase the cards.
“Dozens of cities and towns across the country have similar gift cards and there are 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.”
“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 that 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 £1.7 million 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 heading 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