Supporting our local high streets - how East Ayrshire Gift Card and ShopAppy are making a difference
It’s now nearly three years since East Ayrshire Council’s Community Led Regeneration Team (CLRT) gained Cabinet approval to launch the East Ayrshire Gift Card, a revolutionary new way of supporting local businesses.
The gift card aims to lock money into the local economy to support traders by encouraging everyone to think local, shop local and explore local businesses that they may not have used before.
So much has happened both locally, and worldwide since then, but one thing which has gone from strength to strength is the gift card, which was launched into a lockdown, pandemic ridden market in August 2020. To date it has locked £383,000 into the local economy with individual sales rising by 46% since it started.
And now, together with its sister platform, ShopAppy, both innovations have proved their worth as local high streets battle for business in an increasingly difficult trading environment.
Cabinet this week heard all about how the CLRT’s innovative team pushed the boat out to launch the platforms, giving retailers and other traders the opportunity to take their business online with support from the Council, local Business Associations and suppliers Miconex and ShopAppy.com.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Cabinet Member for Regeneration said: “When we first launched East Ayrshire Gift Card we were mid pandemic, and for our local shops, having a means to get online easily in a place where they could be found was a huge help. For customers too, being able to order, give and spend their cards online gave them flexibility and access they would not otherwise have had.
“Since then we’ve added ShopAppy.com to the mix – letting our actual high streets compete virtually with global players, and it’s paid off. Businesses who’ve adopted the new platforms can now trade 24/7. They’ve had new customers coming through their doors whether in person, online or via click and collect, and they’ve built links with their fellow traders at the same time.
“One thing this has shown is that local people will support our local traders if we make it easier for them to do so. And we’ve also found the Gift Card useful in ways we wouldn’t previously have imagined.
“We can use the card to give people who’re struggling financially some dignity and choice, and a quick and easy means of getting emergency help. Local businesses are also adopting them for use as incentives, gifts for employees or loyal customers and they’re commonly given as prizes in competitions – the more they’re used the more we find new ways to use them.”
East Ayrshire’s team has won praise and national awards from Scotland’s Towns Partnership for its innovative actions in introducing the card – the example set by the CLRT was so impressive they’re rolling out Scotland Loves Local cards to all other Scottish local authority areas.
In winning the Judges Special Award at the Scotland Loves Local Awards, hosted by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, East Ayrshire Council was recognised for the work that helped support local families and support local businesses by locking money into the local economy.
Councillor Reid stresses: “We’ve been described as “trailblazers” for what we’ve done with the card and ShopAppy and we should be proud of what we’ve achieved, but most importantly we couldn’t have done it without the dedication of our local Business Associations, training help from Business Gateway and the traders themselves who’ve embraced the concept and worked with us all the way.”
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