Independent toy shop Toytown Ayr says families have been using the Scotland Loves Local South Ayshire Gift Card to buy toys, easing the festive financial burden.
With just weeks until Christmas, low-income households have been putting the recently distributed £50 Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card to good use, buying Christmas toys and gifts for their children.
In November, South Ayrshire Council sent a £50 Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card to 9,000 households who were in receipt of council tax reduction in the summer, as part of the Local Authority Covid Economic Recovery (LACER) funding.
Recipients of the gift card can use it like a debit card with over 170 businesses in the region, including shops, restaurants, leisure venues, salons and service providers.
Sharon Barbour, from independent toy shop Toytown Ayr, where many of the cards have been spent in recent weeks, said: “As soon as the cards were distributed, people were phoning up and asking if they could spend the cards with us. Their first thought was making sure their children had presents for Christmas.
“People have spent their cards on everything from Lego to L.O.L Surprise! dolls and craft bundles. Being able to use the gift card on Christmas toys for the children means households can put other money towards fuel or food. Thanks to the gift card, children aren’t going without this Christmas.”
It’s not just parents who are spending the cards as grandparents too are buying for grandchildren or giving the gift card to the child so they can choose a little something for themselves. Children have been buying fidget toys and little treats and Sharon says it’s lovely to see.
“The good thing about the card is that it doesn’t mark people out in any way, they’re using the same card that anyone can buy online, so people feel comfortable using it. They just hand the card over at the till, and we swipe it like a debit card,” she adds.
Toytown has been in Ayr for 21 years now and Sharon says the shop is very much part of the community.
“We joined the gift card scheme because encouraging people to shop local is vital as we come out of the pandemic. Everybody has been hit hard, and businesses are still fighting to keep going,” she explained. “There are lots of unique and up and coming businesses in Ayr, and if people visit the high street this Christmas rather than going online, the whole area benefits. The gift card is a way for us to bounce back as a region.”
She continued: “The more people buy and use the South Ayrshire Gift Card, and the more businesses that sign up to accept it, the bigger the scheme gets and the better it becomes for all of us.”
Councillor Bob Pollock, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card making a tangible difference for local families this Christmas, keeping money locked into our communities and supporting businesses at a critical time.”
The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card initiative was introduced in 2021 as a means to direct spend to local communities, and power economic recovery, delivered by Scotland’s Town Partnership (STP) and Perth based fintech Miconex.
Scotland’s Towns Partnership chief officer Phil Prentice added: “We are delighted to hear such a positive response to the programme.”
More information on the distribution of the Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card can be found at: https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/scotlandloveslocalgiftcards and businesses can sign up for free at: https://lovelocal.scot/giftcard/