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Gift card industry unites to keep Britain running during COVID-19

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the gift card market has seen a surge in innovation as shoppers, key workers and businesses alike turn to gift cards to meet ongoing challenges, according to the latest research from the Gift Card & Voucher Association (GCVA).

As the UK adjusts to life in lockdown, gift card providers have come together to provide solutions to a number of COVID-19 related issues, such as:

Supporting key workers and volunteers

A number of leading grocers, including GCVA members Asda, Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer, as well as Tesco and Waitrose, have created specialised volunteer gift card solutions, offering volunteers a safe way to shop on behalf of the elderly, disabled and vulnerable who are less able to safely shop for themselves in lockdown.

With these cards, customers visit a dedicated web portal and select how much they’d like to spend on their weekly shop. A digital gift card containing this amount is then emailed to the volunteer shopping on their behalf, which can then instantly be spent in-store.

Furthermore, other GCVA members One4all and Motivates have both launched campaigns designed to recognise and reward key workers. The initiatives, called #NationsHeroes and #KeyToOurCountry respectively, have been created to celebrate key workers, such as NHS frontline staff, and those going above and beyond for their communities, with well-deserved nominees receiving a £50 or £25 gift card.

Feeding the nation

Through key supplier Edenred Ltd, as well as other providers, children that would usually be eligible for free school meals benefit from a national voucher scheme, which enables them allowing them to continue receiving free meals while schools remain closed.

Every eligible child is provided with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15, which can be spent at shops including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Aldi and M&S.

Through this scheme, schools temporarily unable to provide meals for collection or delivery can provide vouchers to families electronically, or as a gift card for those without internet access.

Gifting for loved ones in isolation

Gift card providers, including major retailers, hospitality brands and specialist digital and multi-store gift cards are also experiencing a surge in demand as people have been adapting their gifting habits – worth an annual £3.3 billion spend when gifting for others, according to the latest industry valuation - in response to the outbreak.

Due to the pandemic, consumers are increasingly opting for gifting solutions that minimise contact, can be sent instantly, and enjoyed at a later date. Because of this, at least one in four gifts received over the coming months are likely to be digitally ‘pinged’ rather than posted. Digital gifting already represents 26% of total UK gift card spend according to GCVA research, with this figure predicted to rise sharply as people seek to manage their gifting from home.

The outbreak has also given rise to a brand-new gifting trend known as “sunny day gifting”, referring to when a gift – usually a gift card - is purchased with the intention of being used at a later date once everyday life has returned to normal. This new means of gifting has already been adopted positively throughout the retail and hospitality industries, with consumers across the UK purchasing gift cards for their favourite shops, bars and restaurants, to support these businesses throughout the pandemic.

Gail Cohen, director general of the GCVA, commented: “As our need for safe, instant payment solutions has increased in line with the emergence of COVID-19, gift cards have emerged as the solution of choice. 

“Gift cards’ versatility makes them the ideal payment, engagement or reward method across a variety of scenarios and, as an industry, we want to ensure we are doing everything we can to be doing our part to keep the nation running and safe throughout these extraordinary times.”

Matthew Collinge, head of gift cards at Asda, said: “At a time when so many of us are in need, it has never been more important for us to come together and support each other. Particularly now, it is crucial for people to be able to shop and pay for goods however is easiest for them, whether this be in-store, online or even through a trusted volunteer.

“People are turning to gift cards because of their proven capacity to offer this flexibility, and we are proud to have been able to leverage our industry knowledge and expertise to help feed the nation, support our brave volunteers and ensure everybody can continue to purchase the food and daily essentials they need.”

For more information, visit www.gcva.co.uk

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