Canterbury Bid

Canterbury BID launches Gift Card to support local businesses

A woman holding an enlarged novelty Canterbury Gift Card

Shoppers will be able to give the gift of Canterbury this Christmas, as Canterbury BID launches its own multi-venue gift card for the city in time for the festive season.

As new national lockdown restrictions kick in, we are urging people to support local businesses – now more than ever – by using the Canterbury Gift Card during the global pandemic.

The first card of its kind in Kent, the Canterbury Gift Card is available to pre-order in time for Christmas from and is an ideal gift for residents, students, visitors and local employees alike.

The initiative has been introduced as part of our ongoing work to support Canterbury businesses, and we are encouraging people to give Canterbury Gift Cards instead of online vouchers this Christmas to ensure the city continues to thrive.

More than 90 businesses have registered to accept the Canterbury Gift Card as payment, including numerous shops, cafés, restaurants, beauty salons and pubs, all at Canterbury Gift Cards can be purchased online and redeemed across the city; each card is a prepaid Mastercard, making it a secure way to gift products.

Canterbury has an enviable mix of shops, with more than 50% independents and an open-air shopping centre in the city.

Lisa Carlson, CEO of Canterbury BID, said: “As we enter a second national lockdown, it is more important than ever to support local businesses. If we can get more people buying the card as opposed to generic online vouchers, it could literally save people’s livelihoods.

“It’s a great, easy gift for family, friends, colleagues and as gifts for teachers. The card features so many different retailers, you can effectively give someone a full day out in our beautiful medieval city with one card. It is like giving Canterbury as a gift.”

The card will launch around the same time as the re-imagined Christmas activities and events for the city centre. The Marlowe Theatre, well-known for its much-loved pantomimes, will be presenting a special socially distanced pantomime over Christmas., and the city will also celebrate the centenary of Rupert the Bear (created by Canterbury’s Mary Tourtel).

There will also be 5 miles of Christmas lights, and Canterbury shop window displays are always a special part of the festive season in the city. This year there will be new a ‘selfie’ trail around the centre where people can pose against colourful seasonal images and graphics in shop windows.

Lisa added: “Despite this unprecedent period of economic struggle and uncertainty, there has been a real sense of caring and camaraderie for and between Canterbury businesses and we want to keep that going.

“The response from business owners to the card has been very positive; the only question they have is why the city hasn’t had its own gift card sooner!”

Feedback from Canterbury Gift Card registered businesses

Lisa Preston from ShoeMed said: “Now more than ever, we are all in this together and have to work as a team to make Canterbury an enticing and safe place for people to shop and visit.

Jon Mills from The Foundry: “We feel that this is a great opportunity for us, and Canterbury. Our high streets, the independents in particular, need cash right now to survive the current crisis. The gift card provides this!”

Simon Youden from Fenwick: “This is a great opportunity to bring Canterbury even closer together in these uncertain times, and a great way in which to support the local business community across our city”

Olivia Stewart-Stead from Fitzgerald Jewellers: “It’s a simple, effective way to promote your business – there could be hundreds of people who didn’t know about you before now considering spending their voucher in your shop. Why wouldn’t you sign up?!

“They say that when you buy from a small business, someone does a little happy dance. This couldn’t be closer to the truth. So much thought, care and attention goes into making our local businesses what they are and we hope that customers can see that. Because without customers, we wouldn’t be open. It’s as simple as that.”

The Town and City Gift Cards scheme has been developed in association with Scottish tech firm Miconex, and the Canterbury card is the first programme in Kent. The BID team invested in the Canterbury Gift Card scheme this year to offer support and publicity to local businesses during the festive season and beyond.

There are now 50 Town and City Gift Card programmes in the UK and Ireland. The programme originated in Perth in 2015 and £1.5 million has been spent through the programmes since then. New programmes will launch in the south in Bury St. Edmunds, London, Tavistock and the Isle of Wight in November.

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex said The Canterbury Gift Card has the potential to support businesses after Christmas too: “Most businesses see Christmas as an opportunity to bring in sales that will see them through the leaner months. In 2020, this is even more vital for them. Whilst Amazon is estimated to have netted $7 billion in sales on Prime Day, small businesses are facing a real struggle for survival. Canterbury Gift Cards purchased for Christmas will tend to be redeemed in the first three months of the year, a quieter time for merchants. A gift card purchase is like money in the bank for them.”

“From other towns and cities in the UK, we’ve seen that people are more experimental when they are given a gift card, which opens up businesses to new customers. Recipients will also spend up to 65% more than the value of the card they’re given. As a cathedral city with character and charm, the potential for the Canterbury Gift Card is huge.”

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