Gift Cards In A Time of Global Crisis: How Can Consumers Help?

Gift Cards have become a hot topic since the Covid-19 pandemic took over the world. Under normal circumstances, gift cards are the perfect gift for birthdays and festive holidays, and an easy method of payment for online purchases, subscriptions or online games. The gift card recipient has the flexibility to choose when and what to use their gift card for.

But as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced countless businesses around the world to shutter their doors to paying customers, the purchase of physical gift cards has been made virtually impossible – as has giving gifts to friends and family members in person.

During this crisis, our favourite shops and restaurants will be at risk of irreparable financial damage and may even have to shut up shop permanently. As a result, consumers around the world are looking into ways of supporting their favourite companies, with gift cards being championed as a key component of such initiatives.

What’s the best way to help?

Digital gift cards are the easiest and most practical method of supporting your local businesses. Why? Because the value of your card can be used as a microloan for your favourite business, which they can use to pay off their immediate fixed costs, like rent.

But buying a gift card does not only help small businesses through times of crisis financially. It also sends an important message of emotional support in times of hardship: You show the owners and employees of small businesses you’re by their side – that their services matter to you – and that you want them to be around also after the crisis.

Where to buy the gift card?

Digital Gift Cards can either be found on the businesses’ own websites, or those belonging to local initiatives focused on keeping companies afloat during the crisis. A few examples of restaurant initiatives around the world are: diningbonds in US or Italy, cuandovolvamos in Spain, in Germany or support-your-restaurant in the UK. Sponsor sites will sometimes add a donation to the value of your purchase or they might provide discounted gift cards. Also, very soon you will be able to purchase your favourite restaurant’ gift cards via TripAdvisor or directly on the restaurant’ Instagram account.

If you see that your favourite place hasn’t joined one of these initiatives yet, suggest that they do! Or if nothing like it exists in your town or city, get involved and feel free to reach out so I can introduce you to the leadings initiatives in your region!

What can you do with the gift card?

Spend it with your friends and family as soon as your favourite business re-opens – or send it via email / WhatsApp for a loved one’s birthday or other special occasions.

But how can you be sure that your favourite businesses will stay afloat long enough for you to redeem your gift card? The sad truth is…you can’t. There is currently no telling how long the crisis will last, and businesses across the board will require large interventions from governments in order to keep from going under. The business you bought a gift card from might simply not be around anymore once you want to redeem your purchase after the crisis.

My advice is – show your support for your favourite local businesses by buying digital gift cards from them and help them survive. And if you’re in the area – get a take-away meal from them once in a while to stop by, check in with them and letting them know you care.

This is the first of four articles aimed at consumers, businesses, technology providers and local initiatives, sharing my top tips and pitfalls addressing the current emergence of gift card initiatives for local businesses in reaction to the Covid-19 crisis. Stay tuned for one every weekday update and don’t hesitate to tell me what you think!

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