Barnsley launches gift card as part of coronavirus response

Gift card will keep the pound in Barnsley; provides welcome boost to the local economy in time for Christmas

Barnsley has launched its very own gift card in time for Christmas to kick start its fightback against the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its high streets.

The Barnsley Gift Card – which can be spent in a wide range of independent and national shops, restaurants and attractions across the borough – is now available to purchase online via www.barnsleygiftcard.com.

The card can be spent in businesses like M&S, Boots, The Entertainer, various Barnsley Market stalls and independents on high streets around the town, and – crucially - can only be spent in Barnsley, encouraging residents to shop locally.

Gift cards can be preloaded with amounts ranging from £5 to £500 and spent in store up to 12 months after purchase - helping to encourage footfall back into Barnsley’s high streets when shoppers feel safe to return.

Data from the Town and City Gift Cards programme – which also provides gift cards to Halifax, Harrogate, Sheffield and York - shows that shoppers spend an average of £34.56 when they buy a gift card.

The Gift Card and Voucher Association valued the UK gift card market at £7 billion in 2019 and that 98.6 per cent of gift cards are spent within a year of being received, while 65 per cent extra will be spent on top of the value of the card received.

Over £1.5 million has been spent through Town and City Gift Cards since the programme’s launch in 2015.

Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The Barnsley Gift Card is a great way to encourage our residents to keep the pound in Barnsley by shopping locally.

“We have a fantastic range of businesses already signed up, over 50 so far, and this is just the start.  More businesses are being added weekly, and we fully expect to have over 100 businesses across the borough signed up next year.

“This is a fantastic scheme that will help boost our local economy following the impact of coronavirus. It’s no secret that businesses have been significantly impacted by the restrictions imposed by the government, even though we’ve done everything we can to support as many local businesses as possible and our footfall has remained strong since the first lockdown started to ease in June.

“We’re in a better position than most in terms of our high street, particularly in our town centre, which is growing as our multi-million-pound regeneration and The Glass Works project continue to progress.

“Where other towns and cities are leaving their high streets to tick over, we’re choosing to invest and future proof ours through our £200 million town centre regeneration, while work to revitalise shop fronts in our principal towns has seen £5 million invested across the borough.

 “It’s important to stress that this is just the one element of our response to the pandemic. We’re doing everything we can in terms of investment, schemes like the gift card and offering support to local businesses to ensure our high streets thrive in the future.”

As part of the launch of the gift card, three local employers in Northern College, NPS and Berneslai Homes have purchased cards for staff, to the value of nearly £15,000.

Colin Munro, Managing Director of Miconex – the company behind the gift card programme - said: “It’s fantastic to see local employers getting behind the Barnsley Gift Card to reward their staff. The value of every £1 spent in the local economy is multiplied several times, supporting local businesses, local jobs and local people. Each Barnsley Gift Card is a prepaid Mastercard and is multi-venue, making it a secure way to gift this Christmas and beyond.”

The Barnsley Gift Card is the latest example of Barnsley’s efforts to tear up the decline of the high street script.

Around £200m is actively being invested in its town centre regeneration, with The Glass Works – a new leisure and shopping offer – leading the way.

The Glass Works complements the iconic Barnsley Market, located at the heart of the scheme. It houses over 90 independent traders, while its independent food court Market Kitchen has already proved to be the go-to town centre destination for foodies.

The Glass Works will welcome a 13-screen Cineworld cinema, Superbowl UK bowling alley, laser quest and soft play, seven family restaurants – including Nando’s and independent restaurant MEET – and 25 shops to the town centre when it completes in September next year.

Shops and restaurants already open include JD Sports, Coffee Boy, Falco Lounge and Deichmann, which opened on 2 December.

They’ll be joined by NEXT, TK Maxx, Sports Direct (including high street fashion arm USC) and Muffin Break, with further additions set to be announced in 2021.

The investment has helped to boost to Barnsley’s independent scene, with over 25 independent bars and restaurants opening their doors since the announcement of the scheme in 2017, helping Barnsley claim the coveted Purple Flag award earlier this year.

Investment has also been committed to Barnsley’s principal towns, with businesses on high streets in Cudworth, Goldthorpe, Penistone, Wombwell, Royston and Hoyland benefitting from £5m to revitalise shop fronts.

Further investment is on the way, too, with the recent announcement of around £2m funding from Historic England as part of the Heritage Action Zone project – match funded by the council – being committed to regenerate buildings on Eldon Street, a key gateway into the town centre.

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