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Aberdeen Gift Card supports struggling households

Food, clothing and toys are top of the list for 14,000 low income households – over 70% of cards have been activated to date with over £840,000 spent in the city.

Aberdeen City Council’s £1.9 million gift card allocation to help Aberdeen residents through the cost of living crisis is supporting struggling households and providing a welcome boost for city businesses.

Over 14,000 Aberdeen Gift Cards were distributed to households in receipt of council tax reduction from the 7th December. In the first month, over 70% of cards have been activated and over £840,000 redeemed in local businesses.

The Aberdeen Gift Card can be spent with around 300 local businesses, including supermarkets, shops, restaurants, cafés and arts venues. Some of the most popular items for residents to spend their £125 pre-loaded Aberdeen Gift Card on over the Christmas period included food, clothing and toys.

Debbie is the Manager at Toytown Aberdeen and said the cards made a big difference for families:

“We’ve been a part of the Aberdeen Gift Card for some time and the cards are constantly being used in the store but there was a big surge in December when the £125 cards were distributed by Aberdeen City Council.

“Many families struggle to afford Christmas presents every year, and it got even tougher for Christmas 2022. But even when money is tight, families will do everything they can to make sure their children have a present, even if it means going without other things. The gift card took a lot of the pressure off parents. Parents knew they could get a toy, a plate of food and something to wear for their kids at Christmas.

“Naturally, people were a little apprehensive about using the cards at first but when they came into the store and realised how easy it was to spend the card, and that they could check the balance using the QR code, they’d often come back and spend a little more another day. You can have instructions written down, but nothing beats face to face conversation and a real person telling you how something works.

“I really hope that Aberdeen City Council uses the card again to support low income families because it was heart-warming seeing how happy people were to have the cards, and the difference it made.”

Haigs is a family run butcher in Aberdeen city centre, run by James and Julie Haig. Julie said:

“The demand for food banks in Aberdeen is higher than ever. When we heard that Aberdeen City Council was planning to distribute the Aberdeen Gift Card to 14,000 low income families in Aberdeen, we thought it was a fantastic idea.

“We know that people are genuinely struggling financially right now. To help, we’ve been using promotions on our butcher products, such as 24 sausages for £6 and our huge 3 for £12 range. There have been lots of new faces into Haigs using their Aberdeen Gift Card and they have been so chuffed to have the card.

“Being a part of the Aberdeen Gift Card, and the disbursal of the gift card from Aberdeen City Council has been absolutely brilliant for our business. It has brought us new customers, and it has helped people. Families may be on low incomes but they still want to give their family good quality food. The gift card has done what it set out to do; put money into the hands of those that need it most, and encourage them to shop local and discover new local businesses.”

Mary Bruce is the Director at Craigdon Mountain Sports in Aberdeen, where cards were used to buy winter clothing. Mary said:

“The distribution of the Aberdeen Gift Card by Aberdeen City Council is a great initiative, and it has been fantastic to be a part of something positive for Aberdeen. It is so hard for folks on a low income at the moment. Warm jackets and base layers, hats and gloves are the main things that people spent their cards on. We have long, cold winters in Aberdeen, so a warm coat is essential and well worth the investment.

“The gift card has put money into people’s pockets and has helped them to discover what’s in their local area, and get the things they need. As a business, it has helped us to increase visibility, brought new customers into the shop that haven’t visited before, and has been a way for us to serve our community.”

The distribution of the Aberdeen Gift Card by Aberdeen City Council is supported by the Scottish Government’s Local Authority Economic Recovery Fund, which aims to stimulate business activity following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aberdeen City Council’s support for families and businesses through the Aberdeen Gift Card builds on the success of the card, launched by Aberdeen Inspired in 2020 to encourage people to shop local.

Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired said: “We introduced the Aberdeen Gift Card to support our businesses and it quickly became one of the most successful local gift cards in the UK. This latest injection from Aberdeen City Council of almost £2 million pounds into our local economy is proving to be hugely beneficial to both households and local businesses, and we look forward to seeing even more cards being activated and spent over the coming weeks.”

Aberdeen’s Gift Card is one of the existing district gift cards that benefits from the Scotland Loves Local brand, as part of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card initiative, introduced by Scotland’s Towns Partnership in 2021:

Kimberley Guthrie, Director of Operations at Scotland’s Towns Partnership, commented: “It’s fantastic to see the benefits that the Aberdeen Gift Card is delivering for people and businesses throughout the city. It demonstrates the project’s tremendous power for good.

“Local businesses need our support to survive. I hope that people will stick with them not just when spending the gift cards they received from the council, but for the long term too.”

The disbursement of the £125 Aberdeen Gift Cards is being administered by Miconex.

Managing director of Miconex, Colin Munro, adds: “The distribution of the Aberdeen Gift Card is a collaborative effort to support families and provide a significant cash injection for local businesses. However, the benefit only reaches families and businesses when the cards are used. I urge any residents who are yet to activate their card to do so. 300 Aberdeen businesses are waiting to accept your card as payment.”

Residents have until the 31st March 2023 to activate their cards. Further information about activating and using the Aberdeen Gift Card is available here.