‘Huge untapped potential’ for Waterford Gift Card following employee rewards survey in the town

The Think Waterford First Gift Card is a local Gift Card that has to be spent in the city. Over 130 businesses across a range of sectors accept the card.

Business leaders in Waterford say the city’s local Gift Card has the ability to reverse the €600 million retail leakage from Waterford, following a recent employee rewards survey.

The employee rewards and incentives survey was undertaken with city organisations to understand the potential for corporate sales in Waterford and awareness of the benefits of the Think Waterford First Gift Card.

In the survey, 94% of organisations said they are aware that the card has to be spent in the city, supporting local jobs and the local economy. 88% of city organisations are aware of the city’s shop local campaign and 93% would consider using the Think Waterford First Gift Card for staff rewards and incentives.

94% of organisations said they offer some type of reward for their team, with almost three quarters offering Gift Cards or vouchers. 62% of businesses say they have a corporate social responsibility policy.

Results also reveal that popular rewards offered by Waterford businesses include Christmas bonuses, long service rewards, ad-hoc rewards or incentives, and employee of the month/quarter rewards. Half of organisations said decisions about rewards are made by their management team.

33% of the Gift Card market is composed of the value of Gift Cards people receive for free, through routes such as work rewards schemes.

The Think Waterford First Gift Card was introduced by Waterford Chamber of Commerce in 2023, with the support of Waterford City & County Council, to drive footfall and spend in the city, replacing the previous paper gift vouchers. Over 130 businesses in Waterford accept the new Gift Card, including shops, restaurants, salons, attractions, hotels and services.

Prepaid Mastercards, the Think Waterford First Gift Card can be spent with any registered business in Waterford, including national brands and independent businesses, with the balance automatically updated. Both physical and digital versions of the card are available.

The cards are eligible to be used with the Revenue’s Small Benefit Exemption that allows firms to gift up to two small benefits to staff each year, up to €1,000, tax free. Almost three quarters of firms in the survey said they were aware of the ability to offer tax free benefits to staff.

Waterford Chamber CEO, Gerald Hurley, said there is huge untapped potential for the Think Waterford First Gift Card:

"It is encouraging to see so many companies saying they will consider using the Think Waterford First Gift Cards going forward, as an alternative to the current methods they are using. Unlike other competing Gift Cards, the Think Waterford First Gift Card has to be spent here in Waterford, effectively locking spend into our city for the benefit of our businesses.

“The Think Waterford First Gift Card is an opportunity for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to our community and to our local businesses. We know that there is a retail leakage from Waterford of over €600 million, but by switching to the Think Waterford First Gift Card for staff rewards and incentives, organisations can take an active role in reversing that retail leakage, keeping businesses open and supporting employment. It would be transformative for Waterford.

“We only have to look at other towns and cities, such as Letterkenny, to see the enormous impact that local Gift Cards can have on local economies. I encourage all firms to take a look at the offering on the Think Waterford First Gift Card, as we’re confident that the choice on offer through the card will meet the needs of a diverse range of employees, as well as being a means for firms to demonstrate their CSR credentials. There is huge untapped potential with our local Gift Card.”

The Waterford Gift Card is part of the award winning Town & City Gift Card programme active across Ireland, the UK, Canada and the USA. Letterkenny, Ballinrobe, Carndonagh, Drogheda and Sligo all operate their own successful Town & City Gift Card programmes.

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said the Think Waterford First Gift Card is the gift that employees want to receive.

“The results from Waterford Chamber’s survey aligns with the results from our 2023 research with organisations, with 94% saying that support for local was important when planning rewards/incentives and 76% supporting local to take an active role in the success of the community.

“From an employee perspective, 82% would prefer to receive a Gift Card from work to other incentives, 89% would rather a multi-store Gift Card and 98% are keen to support local. The Think Waterford First Gift Card is the ultimate ‘shop local’ Gift Card. No other Gift Card can offer the choice and support for local that the Think Waterford First Gift Card offers.

“Our Town & City Gift Card programmes across Ireland are increasingly seeing organisations switching to their local Gift Card for staff rewards and incentives as a way for the organisation to play their part in growing their local economy, providing tangible support for local businesses across sectors. It’s an easy switch that will have a huge impact for Waterford.”

Organisations who would like to find out more about switching to the Think Waterford First Gift Card for employee rewards and incentives can email:

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