City titans are streets ahead with local gift card programs

Aberdeen and Belfast share their success with their local gift card programs.

City titans are streets ahead with local gift card programs

Clever marketing campaigns that tap into the shop local sentiment through multi-retailer gift card programs has meant two of the UK’s largest cities are streets ahead with local economic recovery.

The Aberdeen Gift Card launched in late November, encouraging people to ‘give the gift of Aberdeen’ receiving over £150,000 in gift card sales in its first weeks of operation. Meanwhile, September saw the collaboration of three Belfast BIDS, Belfast One, Linen Quarter BID and Destination Cathedral Quarter (CQ) BID, on a #GiftTheCity campaign to drive local economic recovery, with over £90,000 in gift card sales for the Belfast City Centre Gift Card.

Both Aberdeen and Belfast are part of the award winning Town & City Gift Card programme from fintech Miconex which recorded over £1.9 million in sales in 2020, across its 59 programs in the UK and Ireland.

The population in Belfast was estimated at 343,500 in 2019, with the highest proportion of working age people (16-64 years) in Northern Ireland, and a median age of 35.9. First launching in November 2019, the collaboration of the three Belfast BIDS in 2020 enhanced the Belfast City Centre Gift Card offering. Damien Corr, Business Improvement Manager at Destination CQ BID said:

“We attribute the success of the scheme in Belfast to a range of factors. Primarily, it is the first gift card of its kind offering access to over 155 businesses with a wide ranging offering across retail, hospitality, health and beauty and leisure- all on one card. The scheme has also been great at highlighting options from high street to high end.

“The shop local sentiment in Belfast is strong. This was particularly noticeable throughout the Christmas period, when consumers wanted to buy local to save small businesses. We actively supported this through our social media platforms and marketing activities. The expiry date of 12 months allows consumers to buy now and spend later, which is essential as we make our way through the continuing challenges presented by the pandemic.”



“Our high impact marketing campaign using the official hashtag #GiftTheCity and messaging illustrating the wide range of participating businesses, has helped to raise our brand profile. The Belfast City Centre Gift Card has allowed businesses that would not necessarily have had the resources to offer their own card, to get involved.”

“We are currently working on our spring marketing campaign with a focus on city centre experiences, themes and key moments of celebration throughout the year.  We will continue to support and promote the city centre businesses involved in the scheme as well as encourage new sign ups.

“The collaboration between our BIDS helped to provide more choice to consumers and strengthened the partnership between the BIDS, as well as the participating businesses. Now more than ever, it is important to work together and promote the city centre businesses.”


Aberdeen’s population in 2019 reached 228,670, around 4% of the total population in Scotland. Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said the Aberdeen Gift Card has been a vital aid to their businesses:

We have been pleased with the fantastic sales the Aberdeen Gift Card has had since it launched in late November. With 3500 cards bought with a total value of £150,000, it really has given a boost to the local economy.

Adrian Watson - Chief executive of Aberdeen

“We have been pleased with the fantastic sales the Aberdeen Gift Card has had since it launched in late November. With 3500 cards bought with a total value of £150,000, it really has given a boost to the local economy. Aberdeen Inspired worked incredibly hard in a short timescale to launch it in time for Christmas and it has helped to make a big difference at a time when it was, and is, most needed.

“We put a substantial strategic PR and marketing push behind the scheme and the message to ‘give the gift of Aberdeen’ really struck a chord during a difficult time for the city. Our business engagement team are very active in promoting the benefits of being part of scheme to our levy payers, and this combined with our promotional activity, has helped it reach far and wide. It is our hope that sales will continue to grow and with that, bring further relief to businesses across a wide range of sectors in the city.”

Many of the Town & City Gift card schemes are located in large UK cities, including Sheffield, York, Bath, City of London, Cardiff and Leicester. Managing director of Miconex Colin Munro says large cities can use local gift card programmes to encourage footfall into city centres:

“With their population mass, cities have a large potential audience for their gift card programmes. Local gift cards have to be spent with businesses in that particular area, encouraging shoppers into the city centre. What Aberdeen and Belfast have done so successfully, is to create campaigns that capture the public’s imagination, enabling them to harness the shop local sentiment and support a wide range of businesses in the city.”


Interested in your own programme?

Submit the form below to find out more from one of our experts and hear how we’re helping local communities harness the current customer mood for shopping while supporting local businesses. Alternatively, you can always call us on +44 (0)1738 444 376

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