A new gift card is being launched in Bradford to give the city centre’s high street shops, bars, restaurants and leisure venues a much-needed boost, just in time for Christmas.

The Bradford City Centre Gift Card can be used at around 70 businesses including high street chain stores, independent shops, restaurants, pubs, cinemas, hotels – and even Bradford City football club!

The scheme is being launched by Bradford Business Improvement District (BID) and shoppers will be able to spend the flexible gift card at all participating businesses and venues including The Alhambra, The Light, M&S, Primark, The Entertainer, Mario’s, Impressions Gallery, City Vaults and The Midland Hotel, to name but a few.

Bradford BID manager Jonny Noble said: “We’re really thrilled to be launching this exciting new scheme which will give shoppers and leisure-seekers a great way to spend while also supporting local businesses.

“Everything from food to clothes, drinks, a show, football match or hotel stay – every penny is supporting the Bradford economy and the flexibility of it means it’s a brilliant opportunity for people to discover and enjoy all our city centre has to offer.

“We are delighted that many of Bradford’s well known, popular local independent businesses are involved in the scheme – such as Blooms on Market Street, Huma Humad, Airobounce, Apricot, Funzy, Pizza Pieces, Threads, Tiffin Coffee, for instance – along with more recent additions to the city centre including Brewdog and German Donner Kebab, so this offers a great way for people to discover, or rediscover, the wide variety of stores, leisure and hospitality venues we have to offer.”

The card can be purchased from www.bradfordgiftcard.com or from the Visitor Centre and also soon from Bradford City. It works as a pre-paid Mastercard, with physical or digital versions available.

Physical gift cards are sent to the recipient by post with an optional gift message. Digital gift cards are sent to the recipient as a text or email; the recipient can then add the balance of their gift card to their digital wallet and make their purchase using their phone, either online or in-store. The digital version of the Bradford Gift Card will be available from December 7.

Consumers can load between £5 and £500 onto the card and recipients have 12 months to use the activated card.

A full list of businesses accepting the Bradford City Centre Gift Card can be found on the website.

The BID’s business engagement officer Nikki Chadburn said: “The number of city centre businesses accepting the gift card has been growing daily in the build up to the launch and we know that will keep on going as lots more come on board.

“We think it will become really popular with people wanting to buy something different for presents because it’s so flexible – recipients can spend the balance in one go or in a variety of businesses over time.

“It’s ideal for birthday presents, Christmas presents and all sorts of special gifts and local companies could also use it for staff incentives – what better way could there be for local firms to support the local economy?”

Mr Noble added: “People are becoming increasingly aware of the need to support their local high street by shopping in local businesses and using local hospitality providers and leisure venues and the gift card will give them a great opportunity to do that while encouraging the people they’re giving it to to do the same.

“We think it will help to promote pride in Bradford and help our city centre businesses in their fightback from the impact of Covid restrictions. I’d encourage any business that hasn’t signed up yet to do so as soon as they can!”

Michaela Ramsden, manager of the live music venue and rock bar Nightrain said: “We think the gift card is a fantastic idea and it can only be a good thing for city centre businesses. Because it’s so flexible it means every business – including bars and leisure venues – could benefit and it’s especially important because it means that money for presents that might otherwise have been spent outside the city has to come back into local shops.”

Asma Bibi, sales manager at The Great Victoria Hotel, said: “Anything that encourages people to shop here on their doorstep has to be a good thing. We have lots of fantastically loyal customers in Bradford and it will be great to be able to help them to show others how much we have to offer.

“Bradford has a fabulous reputation as a place where you get genuinely friendly, personal service and the more people we can get to experience that, the more people will come back and everyone will benefit.”

The Bradford Gift Card is part of the award-winning Town & City Gift Cards programme from payments provider Miconex. There are more than 100 Card programmes across the UK and Ireland, including six other schemes in Yorkshire: Barnsley, Halifax, Harrogate, Scarborough, Sheffield and York.

Managing director of Miconex Colin Munro said: “Bradford is one of the first cities in the UK to launch its own physical and digital gift card, leading the way in the digital high street revolution. Even though physical gift cards are still most popular right now, GCVA data shows a clear trend towards digital gift cards with 38.4% moving to this type of gift card in 2020. Redemption of gift cards via mobile is another key trend for 21.6% of people, as is shopping local with a 2000% increase in online searches for support of local businesses in 2020.

“An estimated one in three adults are said to choose gifts based on how soon they can get them. With the Bradford Gift Card, customers can choose a regular physical gift card, or a digital card that the recipient can use instantly, in store or online, giving Bradfordians ultimate choice in how they shop local.”