Shoppers urged to shop local this Christmas as technology helps to futureproof city

Aberdeen has become one of the first places in the UK to launch its own digital gift card, following the huge success of the Aberdeen Gift Card.

The local gift card is now available as an e-card which can be sent instantly to the recipient’s phone by either text or email.

Recipients need to download the Love Local app, add the balance to their digital wallet on their smartphone and then make a purchase using Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Managed by city centre BID Aberdeen Inspired, the Aberdeen Gift Card has retained more than £300,000 in the local economy since it was launched just over a year ago.

The Aberdeen Gift Card can be used in more than 200 different outlets, including shops such as Primark and Marks & Spencer, bars, restaurants, beauty salons and Aberdeen Performing Arts venues and box office.

Physical versions of the Aberdeen Gift Card, which can be sent to the recipient by post, are also still available online and from the bespoke shop in the Bon Accord shopping centre.

The introduction of the new digital gift card is the latest initiative to support businesses and futureproof Aberdeen by enhancing digital connectedness in the city centre.

A 2021 Gift Card and Voucher Association report found that more than 38% of respondents converted to digital gift cards during the pandemic.

In store gift card redemption dropped from 69.6% in 2019 to 54.7% in 2020, while 21.6% spent their gift card using their mobile in 2020, up from 11.4% in 2019.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The Aberdeen Gift Card has been a fantastic initiative since we launched it last year and it is thriving in Aberdeen so we are pleased to have the digital version in place in time for Christmas. With almost 50% of 18 to 34-year-olds using digital wallets, this is a growing trend and it is time for Aberdeen to adapt so we can continue to develop as a city.”

The digital card also allows more businesses to sign up to be part of the scheme. Bars, restaurants and other outlets which did not have the technology to accept the Aberdeen Gift Card’s magnetic strip can now join as most accept payment from digital wallets on smartphones.

Adrian said: “High streets have seen considerable change over recent years. Our mission is to drive the reinvention of our city centre by making it more accessible and appealing for a wide variety of customers, adapting to how they want to shop now and in the future.

“We are delighted that the Aberdeen Gift Card has already locked in £300,000 into our local economy, encouraging people to spend here in Aberdeen rather than online or in other towns and cities.

“The introduction of our own digital gift card takes that one step further, making it even easier for people to show their support for local businesses in a convenient way as well as opening the scheme up to many more businesses who can accept from digital wallets on smart phones.

He added: “Now more than ever, the local economy needs support and by encouraging people to shop local, it helps keep businesses going.”

The Aberdeen Gift Card is part of the multi-award-winning Town & City Gift Card concept from payments provider Miconex.

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said: “The new digital Aberdeen Gift Card aligns with three key trends. The first is convenience - 1 in 3 adults are said to choose gifts based on how soon they can get them. The second is the desire to shop local and there was a 2,000% increase in online search for ‘support local businesses in 2020’.

“The final trend is the move towards mobile. By 2023, an estimated 12 million people will use their phones as their primary payment method and by 2022, mobile payments are set to overtake cash and credit card as the preferred payment method, second only to debit card.

“The new digital Aberdeen Gift Card is an important step in the evolution of Aberdeen’s gift card, but also in the evolution of the city itself, giving customers ultimate choice in how they support and spend with local businesses,” he added.

More than 70 towns, cities and regions in the UK have Town and City Gift Card programmes with new schemes springing up around the UK and Ireland in response to the shop local drive.

For more information and to buy the Aberdeen Gift Card, visit www.aberdeeninspired.com