Retail leaders welcome Glasgow shopper stimulus scheme

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has praised Glasgow City Council’s plans for a £9m shopper stimulus scheme.

It is aimed at benefitting 85,000 households this summer by providing them with a £105 voucher or gift card.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), said: “This is a bold and imaginative plan to help less well-off households and give a much needed shot in the arm to the city’s consumer-facing economy.

“Shops will only survive with the patronage of the public and questions remain over what demand will look like for the remainder of the year given the cost of living crunch – this scheme should boost retail in the city and may even trigger additional spending by shoppers beyond the value of the voucher transaction, creating an even larger economic multiplier.”

Retail in Scotland has been hit hard by the pandemic, with slow retail sales growth, elevated store vacancy figures and shopper footfall still well below pre-pandemic levels.

Glasgow’s shopper footfall in May was 12% lower than the comparable period prior to Covid, for instance.

The SRC stated that a retail voucher or high street stimulus scheme should be considered for elsewhere in Scotland, as a means of re-igniting consumer spending and transactions.

Northern Ireland and Jersey both introduced such schemes in the second half of last year to pep up their economies emerging from the coronavirus crisis.

Glasgow’s new cards can be used in registered businesses across the city, with more than 700 businesses of all sizes registered so far, and almost 400 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the process of registering.

The council was given £9.45m by the Scottish Government for the project – from the Scotland Loves Local campaign – with this funding coming from the £80m Covid Recovery Fund.

Of that, £8.85m will be directly used to allocate the gift cards, with £423,110 to be used as discretionary funding by the council to support groups also impacted by the current cost of living crisis. The remainder of the funding will be used to cover the administrative costs of the scheme.

The Scotland Loves Local campaign looks to encourage people in Scotland to think local first and support businesses on their local high streets.

Data from the council tax system will now be used to identify Glasgow households entitled to Council Tax Reduction (CTR), which in turn will be used to identify which households would be eligible to receive a pre-paid gift card.

The Covid Low-Income Gift Cards will be administered by Miconex, the delivery partners for Scotland’s Towns Partnership. It is expected that the cards will be sent out directly to eligible households throughout July.

To reduce the risk of theft, the cards will require activation. The authentication process will see the card recipient being asked to enter their Scotland Loves Local Gift Card and National Insurance numbers on a dedicated website, and if the numbers match the record held, the balance will be immediately uploaded.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The gift cards will give city businesses a much-needed lift following two years of the pandemic and the resulting impact on trade, but they also allow us to support tens of thousands of low-income households and individuals with practical assistance, something we hope can make a positive difference to them during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades.

“While the number of businesses signed up to the scheme continues to grow, we’re still encouraging as many as possible – especially small and medium-sized companies – to sign up.”

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