Chester BID has announced the launch of the Chester Gift Card – as part of the city’s battleplan to save the high street shops from suffering from the lockdown at one of the year’s busiest shopping periods.
The Chester Gift Card can be spent at over 100 retailers, leisure suppliers and restaurants and bars across the city centre. It is a pre-paid Mastercard that acts as a local currency for anything from a coffee to a night in a hotel, an experience or a shopping spree. Cards are purchased online and delivered directly to the recipient.
Carl Critchlow, Chester BID Manager said: ‘It is no surprise to anyone that our city centre is in peril. We’ve struggled through the first lockdown and despite a decent summer, the Tier 3 restrictions in Liverpool combined with the Wales lockdown left our footfall and city businesses in dire straits. The national lockdown is necessary of course, and we fully support the move to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed. However, it has come at a disastrous time – the time of year when our businesses usually reap the financial benefits of the start of the busy Christmas period.’
‘Anecdotally, I’ve heard people say, ‘I don’t want to buy my Christmas presents from Amazon, I want to support my high street’. Many aren’t sure how to ensure they are putting the money directly into the hands of the independent businesses they want to support. The Chester Gift Card offers a simple way to do just that. It also means if you don’t know what gift to buy, this gives the recipient options from across the city, from clothing to beauty services, afternoon teas to cocktails.’
The Chester Gift Card is part of a well-established Town and City Gift Cards Programme from Scottish fintech Miconex. It has been rolled across other UK cities including Glasgow and Bath, where the support to the city’s businesses has been invaluable. Over £1.5 million has been spent through Town and City Gift Cards since the first programme was introduced in Perth in 2015.
Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex explained: ‘It’s a socially conscious gift choice. £34.56 is the average purchase price for our local gift cards, and we usually see 65% spent on top of the value of the gift card. It also encourages city wide experiences as people will be more experimental if they’re given a Chester Gift Card. The money spent will be directly locked into Chester’s economy and help businesses, and the individuals and families that own and work for them, overcome what has been a desperately hard year.’
Julie Swinnerton, head of Chester Business Club said: ‘We have seen great unity come from this crisis – from the #ChesterTogether campaign that connects businesses to the residents to seeing many of our hospitality businesses recently supporting free school meals during the school holidays. It’s so important we continue to push community-led initiatives.’
She added: ‘Many of our city businesses are going to be using the Chester Gift Card as Christmas presents or staff incentives. It shows a heartening amount of collective responsibility and we are delighted to see how much support we are already receiving. I heartily encourage other businesses to join in, either by buying gift cards or joining the scheme – or both!’
The Chester Gift Card is available to purchase at www.chestergiftcard.com and can be pre-loaded with anything from £5 to £500.