Sunderland celebrates over £125,000 of Sunderland Gift Cards sold

11 April 2023

The Sunderland Gift Card has reached a milestone of over £125,000 in gift card sales and over 200 businesses signed up to accept the card

Local businesses are reaping the rewards from the city’s gift card initiative, designed to encourage local spending in Sunderland.

The Sunderland Gift Card was introduced in November 2020 as a means to lock money into the city, with over £125,000 of cards purchased since then. 201 businesses are now part of the gift card.

Sunderland BID is behind the gift card initiative and introduced the e-card version of the Sunderland Gift Card in 2021, giving recipients the opportunity to load the gift card into digital wallets and pay using their phone.

A 2022 collaboration with The Bridges Shopping Centre saw the centre accepting the Sunderland Gift Card for the first time, including in stores such as Boots, Caffè Nero, Lush, Primark, Next and New Look.

Alongside a range of nationals which accept the card, a number of independent businesses are part of the Sunderland Gift Card, including Asiana Fusion Restaurant, Port of Call bar and grill, Ibbitson’s Butchers, Aphrodite Clothing and Reynolds Outdoor.

A popular place for recipients to spend their Sunderland Gift Card is family run butcher and deli Ibbitson’s, located in Jacky White’s Market. Owner Joanne Ibbitson said:

“Being a part of the Sunderland Gift Card has helped us as a business, especially in the run up to Christmas with people using their cards to stock up the fridge. There is no downside to being a part of the program because it doesn’t cost us anything to be a part of the gift card, offers another way for people to pay and encourages local spend.

“The more money we can keep locked into Sunderland through the gift card, the better. £125,000 of Sunderland Gift Cards sold is really positive for our city, and I hope to see even more people choosing our local gift card, and supporting local businesses.”

Anthony Reynolds is owner of Reynolds Outdoor and said the number of organisations using the Sunderland Gift Card as a staff reward is beneficial:

“Reynolds is one of the oldest independent businesses in the city, dating back to 1860 and is now in the fifth generation of the same family. We’ve been a part of the gift card since it started. We hope it’s a way to help customers to visit the city centre and make use of the large variety of independent and specialty shops, enjoying the shopping experience that just doesn’t exist online. When you shop in person you can see, feel, try and buy what you want rather than be disappointed when an online order arrives.

“We are finding that workplaces use the Sunderland Gift Card as a present or reward, which will hopefully increase as development in the city is completed. Reynolds sells everything from military surplus and workwear to outdoor and snowsports. We’d love to see even more people in Reynolds spending their Sunderland Gift Card with us.”

Sharon Appleby is the Chief Executive of Sunderland BID and believes the choice on offer through the card is key to its success:

“It’s fantastic to see the Sunderland Gift Card reach this important milestone with over £125,000 of gift cards purchased. When we consider that the majority of people spend over and above the value of the gift card when they redeem it, the true impact for Sunderland is considerably higher.

“Choice of where to spend the Sunderland Gift Card is key. And with over 200 businesses now part of the gift card, from restaurants, cafés and food places to retailers, museums and leisure venues to salons, we’re confident that there is something for everyone. This makes the Sunderland Gift Card the card of choice for customers and also for organisations wishing to reward, incentivise and help employees, clients and service users.”

An organisation who has used the Sunderland Gift Card is Back On The Map in Hendon. Rachael Brown is Impact Monitoring Officer at the charity and said:

“In the last 10 years, Back On The Map has supported over 4500 residents, and 700 families. Hendon is one of the most deprived areas of the country and the support we offer to service users is diverse, from job clubs and woodwork shop, to our community pantry and our 87 properties which give local families good quality, warm and secure homes.”

“As a charity, we have been able to access the Household Support Fund for the benefit of our service users.  The latest fund was to support working people on low incomes, giving them a little extra to help during the cost of living crisis. We’ve had amazing feedback on the Sunderland Gift Card. Working families were so grateful to receive the card. At Christmas, service users used the card to buy meat for Christmas. Our local shop H Jones & Son is especially popular for people to spend their cards, as they can buy the things they need like milk, bread and tinned goods.

“Using the Sunderland Gift Card helps our service users, helps our high street and keeps local people in jobs.”

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex, who provides the technology for the Sunderland Gift Card and said:

“Sunderland BID has continued to innovate with the Sunderland Gift Card building the number of businesses on the card, introducing its e-card and collaborating with The Bridges to give Sunderland residents and organisations even more choice of how to buy their gift card, and where to spend it too.”

The Sunderland Gift Card is available to buy online or in person from the Bridges, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, National Glass Centre, Houghton Library and Washington Centre Library.