Sunderland launch a new 'city gift card' to boost high street spending during COVID-19 pandemic
Sunderland has become the first city in the North East to launch its own gift card scheme, aiming to provide a boost to the local economy.
The Sunderland Gift Card is a partnership project between Sunderland City Council and Sunderland BID. It follows other towns and cities including York and Edinburgh, where the scheme has been well received.
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 spend at their venues, which could include cinemas, shops, beauty salons, hairdressers, restaurants and bars.
It's hoped the cards will act as a way to encourage people to spend their money in the city and support the local economy.
The Sunderland Gift Card is part of the Reopening High Streets Safely project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
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’s lots of good reasons for Sunderland having one too,” he said.
“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, the company who run the scheme across the Country, say 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.