Local gift card stimulus effort yields extra $24K for Vermont businesses in first week

The first week of the Buy Local Vermont stimulus effort has been a lucrative one for businesses around the state.

Vermonters snatched $425,000 worth of gift cards in a few hours on Sept. 8 and within six days had redeemed 11% of those offers and then some, according to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

As of Monday, the 1,678 redeemed gift cards reaped an additional $23,831 for businesses across a variety of sectors — more than 50% above their stated value, according to an ACCD report. The gift cards were free to those who signed up.

The roughly 15,000 vouchers ranged from $10 for fast-casual restaurants to $150 for lodging operations. Most were in the form of $30 coupons for restaurants, retail and other businesses.

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Nearly 1,000 locally owned businesses stand to benefit from the program. Those participating received an average of $436.

Restaurants and retail sectors garnered more than $130,000 each, while lodging operations garnered almost $75,000, according to the report.

A promotion for to enroll for a $30 gift certificate redeemable at local businesses is seen on the Vermont Department of Economic Development website on Sept. 3, 2020. The first-come, first-served COVID-19 relief program begins for consumers on Sept. 8; businesses must enroll earlier participate.

The algorithm-based sign-up system issued 20,857 activation codes to Vermonters but about 9,000 did not select a gift, either because they didn’t like their choices or the offer sold out, according to ACCD.

The program’s success could bode well for similar, expanded efforts in the future.

Last month, Gov. Phil Scott proposed an economic relief package intended to provide an additional $50 million to the state’s Buy Local campaign, which would provide every Vermont household with a $150 gift card to be used at participating businesses. The governor’s proposal will need to be approved by the Vermont Legislature.

Contact Austin Danforth at 651-4851 or edanforth@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @eadanforth.

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