Worthing Town Centre Initiative: Worthing Gift Card launches as a new digital and physical gift card, leading the way in the digital high street revolution

Businesses in Worthing town centre have joined forces to launch the Worthing Gift Card, available as a card for your wallet or a digital e-card.

Worthing Town Centre Initiative, which is behind the scheme, says they are leading the digital high street revolution, as one of the first towns in the UK to have its own physical and digital gift card.

Money on the card can be spent with around 90 businesses in Worthing town centre, including leisure, retail, hospitality and services.

Sharon Clarke, Worthing town centre business manager, said: “It’s exciting to be one of the very first towns in the UK to launch a new digital and physical gift card, leading the way in the digital high street revolution.

Sharon Clarke, Worthing town centre business manager, launching the new Worthing Gift Card

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“High streets are under a lot of pressure from online sales and have been for some time. Businesses are also in recovery mode after the strains of the past 18 months. Many had bounce-back loans and those loans have to be paid back. It’s vital that they perform well, which makes it an ideal time for us to introduce the Worthing Gift Card.

“Customers have the option of choosing a physical card that can be handed over at the till, or they can choose a digital gift card that can be redeemed almost instantly. What we’re hearing from Worthing residents is that they want a way to support local businesses, and the Worthing Gift Card is it.

“The digital aspect widens the appeal of our gift card as statistics show that almost 50 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds use digital wallets. Our new gift card programme is an investment in the future health and prosperity of our town.

Sam Whittington, owner of Sewsilver, in the Guildbourne Centre, thinks the new Worthing Gift Care is a really good idea.

“We also see the Worthing Gift Card as an ideal gift for organisations to give to their staff. Organisations typically choose online gift vouchers for staff for the choice it offers but with the Worthing Gift Card, they can give staff even more choice, including leisure, retail, services and hospitality, and support local businesses, too. It’s a tangible way that we can all work together for the benefit of Worthing.”

Physical gift cards are sent by post with an optional gift message. Digital gift cards are sent as a text or email and the balance can be added to the digital wallet for purchases using a phone, online or in store.

The Dome Cinema is one of the businesses where the gift card can be used and Ross McLaughlin, manager, said joining the Worthing Gift Card was a ‘no-brainer’.

He added: “The Dome is one of the oldest independent cinemas in the country and is still under family ownership. We show all of the latest releases across our three digital screens and will add another screen next year.

“As with all cinemas, 2020 was a really bad year at around 20 per cent of our usual revenue. Now we’re open again, we’re starting to get back to a positive place. People are really keen to get back to the cinema and also to show their support for their local independent venues.

“It is really good to see a scheme like this which encourages people to stay local and promotes the whole Worthing offering. Through the Worthing Gift Card, the town can be seen as a one stop destination for a whole day or night out, with shopping, food, the cinema and more, it’s the whole experience of Worthing that you can get with one physical or digital gift card.

“Worthing’s culture and night time offering has come on in leaps and bounds over recent years and the Worthing Gift Card is a celebration of all we have to offer.”

Sewsilver, in the Guildbourne Centre, is also accepting the card and owner Sam Whittington said she thought it was a really good idea.

She added: “Sewsilver has been here in Worthing now for 11 years. The pandemic was horrible, we launched a website but it wasn’t the same as being open with customers able to see products in real life.

“Since we reopened, people are more inclined to shop local and Worthing benefited from the increase in staycations, especially in September which is traditionally a quieter time once the children go back to school.

“Both national brands and independents are on the card and it’s keeping money here in Worthing. We need to keep banging the shop local drum and supporting local businesses. For those of us that managed to reopen, we’re just getting back on our feet.

“There are no negatives to being a part of the Worthing Gift Card for a business. As long as you can accept Mastercard, you can accept the physical Worthing Gift Card, or people can spend their card with us using their digital wallet. It doesn’t cost us anything as a business to accept the Worthing Gift Card.

“People can give the Worthing Gift Card as a gift and it gives the recipient huge choice. I like the fact that the card can be spent with me but it can be spent with the hairdresser, or many other businesses. The new Worthing Gift Card is a positive move for our town.”

The Worthing Gift Card is part of the award-winning Town & City Gift Cards programme from Scottich fintech Miconex.

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said: “Worthing’s new gift card is a cutting edge digital product that takes into account how people shop both now and in the future.

“At the moment, in store is the most popular way to redeem gift cards, representing 54.8 per cent of redemptions, but 21.6 per cent redeemed their gift card using their mobile phone in 2020, almost double the 2019 percentage.

“By 2023, around 12million people in the UK will use their phones as their primary payment method. Shopping local as a trend is continuing, as is the trend to buy gift cards. GCVA data from September 2021 shows that 41.8 per cent regularly purchase gift cards as presents. With the Worthing Gift Card, locals have an option that is convenient, local and appealing.”

Visit townandcitygiftcards.com/product/worthing-gift-card for full details. A similar scheme operates in Chichester.