Businesses across the north-east are taking part in a new Christmas scheme in the hope of bringing people back to the city centre during its hour of greatest need.
More than 120 businesses across the Granite City and beyond have signed up to take part in the Aberdeen Gift Card scheme as part of a drive to encourage shoppers to visit the high street and support local businesses.
The project, which has been developed by business improvement group Aberdeen Inspired and supported by the council, has been launched in time for Christmas.
The card can be used both in person or online in a wide range of businesses including independent and national retailers such as Primark, Marks and Spencer and John Lewis, restaurants, beauty salons, theatre and cinema venues, and many more.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said the gift card is a way to “keep the vibrancy in the city centre” and help it survive challenging times.
He said: “This is a perfect way of backing all our businesses and helping them during a turbulent time.
“They need the support of the public now more than ever, and the Aberdeen Gift Card is a secure, non-contact way to give a gift voucher this year, with all the money kept in our city, supporting local jobs and our economy.
“It’s been a very difficult year, but there is so much to look forward to and we hope people will embrace it and take this opportunity to buy local within Aberdeen.”
The Aberdeen Gift card is another step forward in a desperate appeal for people to hit the high street for their Christmas shopping after recent figures revealed that the footfall in some of the city’s main thoroughfares, including Union Street and Bridge Street, has dropped by 66%.
Many local businesses struggled with having to close in the early days of lockdown, despite the financial support on offer, while others still running faced a lack of trade.
The pandemic has also accelerated the challenges previously posed by the increased trend of online shopping, with the city losing more than 40 shops last year.
Aberdeen city council co-leader Douglas Lumsden has called for more people to use this opportunity to support the local economy.
“Even before the pandemic, the high street had been changing with a lot of retailers moving online”, Mr Lumsden said.
“We’ve been trying to encourage more restaurants and cafes into the city centre and the gift card that’s been launched is a good way for people to buy their Christmas presents and also to help local businesses at the same time.”
Jamie Wishart, head of branch at John Lewis, which are one of the businesses taking part in the scheme, said: “We have been a shop in the city for 31 years now, we feel deeply ingrained in Aberdeen and we really want to see it thrive.
“Any scheme that encourages that and points towards that, we are broadly supportive of.”
People across the north-east will also have the chance to win a £50 Aberdeen gift card through a Press and Journal competition starting this Saturday.