27 November 2020

The team behind an initiative to support Sunderland’s local economy has hit out at tv’s financial expert advice on gift cards.

Sunderland BID has recently launched its own initiative with experienced company, Micronex, which successfully runs the Town and City Gift Card across the UK.

The scheme aims at getting people to spend their money locally and can be spent not just in retail but also on a wide range of experiences and services across the city.

But now the BID is taking to task money saving expert, Martin Lewis, who this week went on national television warning people not to buy gift cards.

Speaking on ITV’s The Money Show on Tuesday he said that the downside of cards was that “people forget they exist, some have expiry dates and when a shop goes bust, they lose all their value.”

But according to Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID this advice gives out the wrong message for local gift card schemes -and can have a negative impact on initiatives set up to help boost the economy.

“It was very disappointing to hear Martin Lewis once again giving a blanket warning about not spending money on gift cards,” she said.

“We have set up our scheme to help businesses across our city centre and because they can be spent in any number of outlets, nobody is going to miss out on being able to spend them.

“This year it is more important than ever for people to support their local retailers and for someone so high profile to make this kind of comment without looking at all of the options is very damaging.”

Since its launch two weeks ago, more than 100 local companies have signed up to accept the Sunderland Gift Card, with more joining on a daily basis.