Ballymena’s new gift card has launched ahead of the key Christmas trading period. Shoppers can now buy the Ballymena Gift Card online as either a physical or digital gift card, and in person from kiosks in the Fairhill Shopping Centre and the Tower Centre.
Cards are available to buy from £5.
The Ballymena Gift Card is a multi-store gift card that can be spent in over 100 businesses in Ballymena Town Centre, with more businesses being added on daily, including high street brands and independent businesses. The cards are prepaid Mastercards, and used like debit or credit cards in shops, restaurants, salons, attractions and services.
The gift card scheme has been supported as part of the Department for Communities Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme. The Department launched the programme to assist town centres in pandemic recovery, and will be providing £20,000 funding for the installation of the kiosks.
Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) will provide the remaining £6,000 for installation, and fund the ongoing costs.
Traders say the Ballymena Gift Card will keep money locked into the town, bring in new visitors and give customers choice in how to spend their gift cards.
Lesley McCaughan is the owner of Follow Coffee and believes the gift card represents Ballymena as a destination town:
“Nowhere in Northern Ireland has as good shopping as Ballymena, it really is a destination town. And now, you can buy the Ballymena Gift Card and have a whole day out in Ballymena, visiting our unique independents.
“Buying the Ballymena Gift Card makes more sense than giving someone a gift card for one store, because there is so much choice and variety of where you can spend it. It’s an attractive alternative to spending on Amazon and is a really handy, convenient way for people to shop local. People can pick up the Ballymena Gift Card when they’re out or buy it online. That makes it easy.
“The more people buy and spend the Ballymena Gift Card, the more money we can keep local and the stronger Ballymena will get. It’s time to build on Ballymena with our own gift card.”
Boots, Superdrug, Waterstones and Primark are just some of the national brands who have signed up to accept the Ballymena Gift Card.
Aileen McGarry is the store manager at Primark Ballymena and said it’s a card for everyone:
“Having the Ballymena Gift Card is a great advantage for the town. It’s for the area and it works like a credit or debit card. Primark is very much focused on people and the high street. We’ve joined the Ballymena Gift Card because it’s all about making it easy for customers to spend their card.
“They can use the gift card to go out for dinner, to get their hair done, to do some shopping in Ballymena’s many great shops like Wyse Byse. Ballymena is small but it’s the place to visit when you’re after something unique. The Ballymena Gift Card is for everybody, and is both versatile and user-friendly, giving customers ultimate choice.
“Most people are paying with their phones now, so it’s good that there is an option to buy a digital version of the Ballymena Gift Card as well as the physical version. The digital gift card better enables spontaneous spend, as your gift card will be stored in your digital wallet. It’s exciting that we have a gift card for Ballymena, this is us on the way up.”
Popular Ballymena business Wyse Byse accepts the Ballymena Gift Card. Owner Richard McLoughlin believes the card will be a great asset to the town:
“Ballymena has a good mix of independents and multinationals, and the gift card is a novel way of attracting people here. If I buy the Ballymena Gift Card for my friend who lives outside of the town, then they’ll come here and have a whole experience of Ballymena through the gift card. And they’ll talk about the great experience they had with others, bringing even more people here.
“The gift card appeals to everyone that is out there to spend money. It has the physical and digital versions, it can be spent with many different businesses in Ballymena, and it’s easy to spend. It’s an ideal gift for young and old.
“Wyse Byse is celebrating 50 years in Ballymena this year, offering quality at an affordable price. We’ve seen a lot of changes in that time. Right now in Ballymena, we’ve got more shops opening than closing and areas like Church Street are thriving. The gift card is a jewel in the crown for Ballymena and will be a great asset, keeping money here and helping us to lead the way as Northern Ireland’s leading retail destination.”
Emma McCrea is the Manager at Ballymena BID and said:
“The funding we received enabled the installation of the gift card kiosks at the town’s two shopping centres, Fairhill and the Tower Centre. 1 in 3 adults choose gifts based on how soon they can get them. We believe having the in person kiosks is vital to making the gift card a convenient way for customers to support local. Whether people want to buy the gift card in person, send a digital gift card, or buy it online with direct delivery to the recipient, we have all options covered.”
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, added:
"The Ballymena Gift Card is the perfect present for all your loved ones this Christmas. Supporting our towns and local high-street businesses has never been more important. The gift card can be spent in over 100 businesses throughout Ballymena which have everything you need for the festive season.”
The Ballymena Gift Card is part of the award-winning Town & City Gift Card concept from Miconex, which is also live in Belfast and Enniskillen.
Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said the desire to support local is as strong as ever:
“Our recent survey showed that over 90% of people are keen to support local businesses this Christmas and over 67% would like to receive a multi-store gift card like the Ballymena Gift Card over a single retailer gift card. Over 89% of people who receive a gift card make a specific visit to the town to spend it, typically within 1-3 months. The Ballymena Gift Card wraps up support for local with unbeatable local choice, and drives support for businesses in the town quickly.”
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