The shop local movement started with a community gift card scheme in Perth – now it’s in more than 50 towns and cities.
Perth fintech Miconex provided the tech behind the Perth Gift Card scheme, which launched in 2015.
Unlike other gift cards, the card can only be used in participating local businesses, ensuring the money stays in the community.
Shop local ethos grew during Covid
The popularity of the schemes has grown strongly, and throughout the pandemic last year.
New schemes launched include Kirkcaldy, Aberdeen and Falkirk, taking the Scottish programmes to 17.
Managing director Colin Munro said £1.9 million was spent on its programmes last year, a year-on-year rise of 350%.
“The shop local sentiment has been building globally for some years now, as we see a return to community and all of the benefits strong communities bring,” he said.
“The pandemic has accelerated the shop local trend and increased the demand but is not the sole cause of it.
“We want to convert the demand for local shopping into economy-boosting revenue.
“It’s a programme that works just as well in a small town as in a large city.”
Expansion to Kirkcaldy, St Andrews, Crieff
Christmas was a key trading period for Miconex, with 10 of its Scottish schemes recording five-figure sales in November and December.
Schemes in Perth, Kirkcaldy, St Andrews and Crieff saw a total spend of £54,000 in those key months.
Aberdeen achieved more than £130,000 in gift card sales in December alone.
The firm has a fairly even split in customers who are aged under 35, between 35 and 54 and over 55. But the over-55s account for almost half of the value spent on cards.
Women purchase slightly more gift cards (53%) than men.
“What we can see from the 2020 data is that multi-venue gift cards are popular across the generations,” Mr Munro added.
“As we would expect, Boomers and Generation X shoppers spend most when they buy gift cards, due to their greater disposable income.
“But Millennials and Generation Z are vital to the long-term success of gift card programmes.
“Once that loyalty is gained, purchase values can increase alongside disposable income.
“Overall, this is data that we will use to continue to support our new and existing gift card programmes around the UK and Ireland.”
Value of data
Miconex said its programmes lock in money locally for participating businesses, drive footfall and stimulate economic activity, in effect creating a local currency through the Mastercard network.
In 2018, Miconex launched Mi Rewards, a loyalty programme that automatically rewards consumers for spending money at registered businesses in a specific local economy.
The data provided through Mi Rewards generate insights to help towns/cities and participating businesses to better understand customers, customer behaviour and to drive loyalty.