Shop local: Consumers turn to local, multi-venue gift card schemes in Ireland


Fintech Miconex has revealed that over €2.1 million was spent through its Town and City Gift Card programmes in 2020, providing evidence that consumers are turning to local, multi-venue gift card programmes in a bid to support local businesses. The 2020 sales data represents 350% year on year growth for the firm.

Miconex took its total number of local Town and City Gift Card programmes to 59 in 2020, with 2 new programmes launching in the Republic of Ireland in November, Ballinrobe and Drogheda, as places sought to harness the shop local sentiment and unite businesses behind one gift card that can be spent across retail, leisure, hospitality and services. A new Irish scheme in Carndonagh is due to launch in the spring.

Christmas was a key trading period for Miconex, with 33 of its schemes recording at least five figure sales in November and December. In Northern Ireland, Enniskillen and Belfast achieved over £100,000 and £80,000 in gift card sales respectively in December.

The Lakes Gift Card was developed for the towns and villages of Ballinrobe, Cong, Kilmaine and Clonbur in County Mayo. In two months this gift card programme secured €230,000 in sales. The Drogheda Gift Card can be spent with over 100 businesses in the town, with over €100,000 in gift card sales in its first weeks of operation.

Consumers can purchase the Drogheda Gift Card and The Lakes Gift Card from a new site set up by Miconex for the Irish market.

In the Republic of Ireland, Miconex reports that gift card transactions in the last two months of 2020 were largely driven by Generation X shoppers (aged 35-54) and Boomers (55 plus), representing 39.07% and 37.5% of transactions respectively. Millennials (25-34) accounted for 17.97% of transactions and Generation Z (16-24) 12.89%.

Data also revealed that the older the customer, the higher the purchase value in Ireland with 46.33% of revenue generated by Boomers, 39.6% for Generation X, 11.08% for Millennials and 3% for Generation Z. Thus, whilst under 34s accounted for over 30% of transactions, they represented 13.08% of revenue for gift card sales.  Women purchased more gift cards in Ireland, buying 60.94% of all gift cards in the festive period, accounting for over 55% of revenue.

In Ballinrobe, the gift card scheme was a joint initiative between Ballinrobe Community Development Council (CDC) and Ballinrobe Enterprise Organisation (BEO). Pat Donnellan is the chairperson of Ballinrobe CDC and said the demand over the festive season was strong:

“Demand for gift cards in the Christmas week was crazy. We sold the cards at Murphy’s Newsagents and were selling 100 cards a day. Martin Murphy, the owner, who came up with the idea of a gift card, had people coming into the shop constantly for cards. We had to start a waiting list for gift cards, with people calling in each day. I had people calling me for cards, the phone never stopped.

“75% of our sales in the first two months were from corporate sales. The orders just came flooding in before Christmas. The Lakes Gift Card was the number 1 Christmas gift in the town. Our campaign now is focused on redemption, and encouraging people to use their card. With merchant promotions on redemptions, we can make the Lakes Gift Card better than cash for consumers.”

Drogheda. L to R. Leo Monahan. Director, Love Drogheda Bid. Trevor Connolly. CEO. Love Drogheda BID

Miconex’s sales performance aligns with findings of increased buoyancy in the gift card market during November and December. The Gift Card and Voucher Association reported a marked increase in overall gift card buying in December 2020, with 51.5% of respondents purchasing a gift card for self-use or as a gift. They also found that 25.2% of people purchasing gift cards for others and 24.2% purchasing gift cards for themselves, did so to show support for local businesses.

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex believes the success of its Town and City Gift Card concept is just the start of what can be achieved with local gift card programmes: “The shop local sentiment has been building globally for some years now, as we see a return to community and all of the benefits strong communities bring. The pandemic has accelerated the shop local trend and increased the demand but is not the sole cause of it. What our places in Ireland have done is convert the demand for local shopping into economy boosting revenue, in a programme that works just as well in a small town as in a large city, creating an unbeatable consumer product.

“What we can see from the 2020 data is that multi-venue gift cards are popular across the generations. As we would expect, Boomers and Generation X shoppers spend most when they buy gift cards, due to their greater disposable income but Millennials and Generation Z are vital to the long term success of gift card programmes; once that loyalty is gained, purchase values can increase alongside disposable income. Overall, this is data that we will use to continue to support our new and existing gift card programmes around Ireland.”


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