There has been some concern amongst consumers about purchasing gift cards in 2020.
Due to the collapse of chains such as Cineworld, financial journalist Martin Lewis has advised people against buying gift cards for Christmas this year. Whilst this is understandable, it’s also important to remember that for some retailers, the sale of gift cards will be the only thing that keeps them afloat.
At a time like this, gift cards are an important aspect into many shops staying open. At the start of the pandemic, there was a popular campaign among social media users that encouraged people to buy gift cards from independent retailers.
Gift cards improve a retailer’s cash flow by giving them the money upfront, but they also don’t have to provide services immediately. Gift cards also have the added bonus of, during times of unexpected closures, customers promising to return once the store has reopened.
So whilst the reluctance to purchase gift cards is valid and understandable, it’s also important to consider other factors when purchasing a gift card.
If you’re a customer that was planning on sending a gift card or two, there’s no need to scrap all your Christmas present ideas. Instead, consider where you’re spending your money: it’s likely that independent shop owners need the custom more, and are more likely to go above and beyond to accommodate your gift card in the unfortunate event that their business has to close.
Of course, there are always a certain amount of risks when it comes to purchasing from small or independent retailers at such an uncertain time, but the other alternative is that once we are through this period, there won’t be any small businesses left.
If you own a business with a gift card revenue, then you shouldn’t start panicking. Despite the Martin Lewis advice, the response across social media to gift cards is a good one.
Gift cards are still a popular choice, and perhaps will be even more so this year. Restrictions on seeing friends and family means visits over the Christmas period will be limited, so mailing out a gift card to a relative is an easier solution than shipping a large gift or thoughtlessly transferring cash.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when the length of time shops would be closed remained uncertain, many people saw purchasing gift cards as a way of helping their favourite businesses remain open. It’s also important to remember that gift cards are not only used as gifts for others, as people have been purchasing them to use themselves once their favourite retailers reopen.
One way to reassure fears amongst your customers is to make the expiry date of their gift card flexible. This way, if something happens that is beyond either yours or your customer’s control, you can add a further six months onto the date to give them extra time to spend it.
You could also make it available to be spent online, so even if your bricks and mortar location closes, you can still receive sales through your website.
If you’re still unsure, a simple touch of marketing could help your gift card sales. Setting up an email campaign and putting visible stickers in your window to advertise your gift cards can serve to reassure customers that they can trust your business.
Gift cards are a risk worth taking.