A GIFT card scheme saw its sales rocket in the run-up to East Lothian’s first Christmas in the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing in nearly £50,000 to local shops and businesses.
The East Lothian Gift Card has become the seventh best selling area card produced by its suppliers in the UK.
Launched in late 2018, it offers people the chance to buy cards which can be used in local shops and businesses.
A new report has revealed that the card has seen more than £110,000 spent for use in local businesses since its launch, with more than £47,000 bought to spend between October and December 2020.
Councillor John McMillan, economic development spokesperson for East Lothian Council, said that the success of the card had made it the seventh best performer in the UK for the supplier.
He said: “It’s fantastic to see the East Lothian Gift Card proving so popular as it encourages use of our varied local businesses.
“It’s more important than ever to support local traders as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
The report, which has figures for the number of cards bought from October 2018 to March last year, found that the average amount spent on the cards was £32.01.
The gift card was launched by East Lothian Investments on behalf of the local authority as a year-round offer following the success of the council’s Christmas shop local campaign, which had run for a decade.
Hundreds of cards were sold during its first two years; however, the report has revealed that between October and December 2020, 2,328 cards were sold, with an average spend of more than £20 each.
Mr McMillan said: “While we don’t have final quarter figures yet for 2021, we expect these to show very healthy sales again and we are seventh in the UK in terms of area gift card sales operated by our supplier.
“We also know from recent research published in the Financial Times that East Lothian people supported their local traders more than any other UK local authority area during the lockdowns, which is testament to the quality of local businesses and the strong community spirit we have in East Lothian.
“The gift card is a great way to support and encourage that ethos.”
About 117 local businesses have signed up to accept the gift card in their stores, with no business charges applied to them.
Pet shop owner Fiona Veerman said that the card had been a boost for local traders who were battling against online retailers.
Fiona, who runs Veerman’s Pets & Co in Tranent, said: “We have always welcomed all customers into the shop with a smile, and we feel that this is especially important today as high streets up and down the country struggle to compete with online giants and out-of-town shopping centres.
“We have been involved with the East Lothian Gift Card scheme from the outset, as it was created specifically to encourage customers to think locally.
“This is very important to us, as we also live in Tranent and know that money spent locally stays in the community.”
No figures are available for the current financial year yet; however, the report, which goes to the council’s audit and governance committee next week, reveals that East Lothian Investments is now looking into a way to provide the cards digitally in the future.