Supporting Gloucester’s businesses has never been more important after months of coronavirus restrictions, and a new campaign means there’s also never been a better reason.

Spend It is a nationwide initiative which encourages people to use Town and City Gift Cards to back the businesses at the heart of their communities. 

The Gloucester Gift Card is part of the scheme and can be used at almost 40 shops, salons, pubs, restaurants and more supported by Gloucester BID around the city centre.  

Idun Spirit, a spiritual wellbeing shop on Westgate Street, has been part of the Gloucester Gift Card scheme since November and co-owner Libby Austin-Foley said: “We love being part of the gift card, not only does it give our customers a way to spend money in store and online with us but it also allows them to support our business community here in Gloucester, especially the small shops and restaurants. 

“We don’t think there is anything more rewarding than seeing the high street buzzing with those who want to support their local independents.’’

Since Gloucester Gift Card was launched in November last year, they have proved popular with shoppers, and should become even more so as businesses continue to return to normal operation.

Each gift card can be spent with a variety of traders, from retail and leisure to hospitality and services, and are designed to make it easy for customers to shop local, keeping money locked into the area and supporting small businesses.

Emily Gibbon, Gloucester Business Improvement District Manager, said: “The Gloucester Gift Card is a fantastic way to support local businesses, but for businesses to benefit, we need gift cards to be spent. 

“If you’ve bought or been given a Gloucester Gift Card recently, please find it, check out all of the places where you can spend your gift card and get out and enjoy spending it. It has been a tough year for traders, and they will appreciate your custom more than you could know.”

The Town and City Gift Card programme is run by Miconex and the Spend It campaign will be taking place in more than 60 locations around the UK. Customers are invited 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.

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.”

Facts and figures

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% of UK adults 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. 

Overall retail footfall in the UK in the week to 24th April 2021 was 80% that of the equivalent week in 2019, reports the ONS. Footfall was highest in the North and Yorkshire at 90% of 2019 levels, with Scotland at 49% of its 2019 equivalent. Northern Ireland footfall saw a 6% increase in footfall between the weeks ending 17th April and 24th April, whilst Wales remained unchanged. 

UK seated diner reservations on Saturday 24th April were 62% that of the equivalent Saturday in 2019, 41% in London and 83% in Manchester. 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.