Review of the year: Multi-generational love for local drives gift card sales in the UK

Local gift cards are widening their appeal across the UK, and across the generations. Aberdeen, Enniskillen, East Ayrshire, Cambridge, Belfast, Barnsley, P

Local gift cards are widening their appeal across the UK, and across the generations.

Aberdeen, Enniskillen, East Ayrshire, Cambridge, Belfast, Barnsley, Perth, East Lothian, York and Kirkwall recorded sales of over £1.2 million for their local gift cards in 2021, a 32% increase on 2020.

Miconex increased the reach of its award winning Town & City Gift Cards program to 70 UK and Irish places in 2021. Analysis of 2021 data shows universal appeal for its local gift cards across the age brackets for both the initial sale of gift cards, and the value of that initial gift card sale.

25-34 year olds lead on gift card transactions but 35-44 year olds lead on gift card value in the UK.

In the UK, 25-34 year olds were responsible for 25.44% of gift card transactions, followed by 35-44 year olds (21.15%), 18-24 (15.79%), 45-54 (14.77%), 55-64 (13.74%) and 65+ (9.11%).

Higher purchasing value for the 35-44 age group placed this segment into top place for local gift card transaction value in the UK (28.96%), followed by 25-34 (19.94%, 55-64 (16.25%), 45-54 (15.87%), 18-24 (9.93%) and 65+ (9.05%).

Women led the way in initial gift card sales and transaction value in the UK at 57%.

Carl Alsop, Operations Manager at York BID said the data shows the universal appeal of local gift cards:

“The York Gift Card launched in 2019. We achieved almost £70,000 in sales in 2021, an increase of 47% on 2020 and we’re very proud of that. In 2021 we introduced a second card design, offered free postage on gift cards, and continued to add on businesses. Over 300 businesses now accept the York Gift Card now, making it the biggest in the UK. When you look at the range of businesses, you understand that it can be bought by, and enjoyed, by anyone, no matter their age, and this is reflected in the 2021 sales data, showing the appeal of local gift cards right across the generations.

“When we started the gift card, we thought it would be a card primarily for residents, but it really is a card for all. We’ve had York Gift Cards purchased from as far away as Australia, and for such a wide range of reasons, from winning a pumpkin carving competition, thanking someone for taking care of them during lockdown to a gift for a staycation in York. In 2022 we’ll continue to innovate and grow the York Gift Card, there really is no end to the potential of a local gift card, it can always be developed with new businesses joining and new customers using the card.”

In Northern Ireland, Enniskillen achieved over £161,000 in sales in 2021, up 10% from 2020.

Noelle McAloon is Enniskillen’s BID Manager: “Right from the start, people in Enniskillen were thrilled at the idea of being able to buy a gift card for their town. They’re proud of where they live and there’s a sense of ‘that’s my hometown or home country’. Buying a gift card allows them to put a little bit of Enniskillen in someone’s pocket. The population in Enniskillen is 11,000 and when you set that against over £160,000 in sales in 2021, you really get a sense of the power of shop local.

“The very best endorsement is when we get people saying they were given a gift card last year, and are buying it this year for someone else. It shows they’ve had a positive experience and see the Enniskillen Gift Card as a valuable gift for all kinds of occasions through the year.”

In Scotland, Aberdeen secured over £270,000 in sales of the Aberdeen Gift Card in 2021, the highest in the UK, and over £425,000 in total since its launch in November 2020.

Adrian Watson, Chief Executive at Aberdeen Inspired said: “We brought forward the launch of the Aberdeen Gift Card as a means to help businesses to recover from the pandemic, and the people of Aberdeen were quick to show their support for our city.

“The Aberdeen Gift Card can now be spent at over 200 businesses in Aberdeen. The mix of national and independent brands, sectors including retail, hospitality, accommodation, and services, plus the sheer amount of businesses which accept the card, places it streets ahead of single retailer gift cards and is fundamental to the success of the card with both consumers and employers.

“The new digital Aberdeen Gift Card, launched in December 2021, means we can bring even more businesses on board with the gift card, and widen its appeal even further to the growing number of consumers who opt for mobile payments as their preferred way to pay.”

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex:

“It’s really encouraging that support for local businesses is coming from all across the UK, and from all ages. Our places have created a local gift card that people want to buy and receive as a gift. Customers can pick up the gift card and instantly see many, many businesses where they could spend their card. It makes the idea of loving local easy for customers to achieve, and to share with others.

“As well as the number of businesses, the unique mix of hospitality, retail, attractions and services on each card is integral to the success of local gift cards, and is a huge contributing factor to their universal appeal. Whether someone is 18 or 80, there is an activity they’d enjoy, a restaurant they can visit, or a shop they can buy from, all through their gift card.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see the adoption of local gift cards by younger people, in both the 25-34 and 18-24 age groups. These age groups may spend slightly less when they buy the gift card initially, but they back the concept of shop local which is vital for the recovery of our businesses, and the future of our high streets. As we roll out our new digital gift cards, we are continuing on our journey to make shop local easy, convenient and appealing to the whole community.”

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