Bury town centre loyalty card plans

LOYALTY cards for individual stores have been around for years - but it has now emerged an entire Suffolk town could soon boast its very own reward system for those who shop local.

Laurence Cawley

LOYALTY cards for individual stores have been around for years - but it has now emerged an entire Suffolk town could soon boast its very own reward system for those who shop local.

The idea of a town-wide loyalty card for Bury St Edmunds is the brainchild of the Bury Town Centre Management Group.

Last night it said a number of options were being looked at - which includes a simple discount card in which shoppers get slashed-price items by waving their plastic.


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A second option involves card-holders amassing points each time they spend in the town which can be stored up and redeemed at any shop in Bury.

Town centre manager Steve Peters said talks were already under way between the management group and retailers.

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“We see it as another incentive for people to shop locally,” he said. “We are looking at all the options available and are speaking with businesses to see which scheme they would prefer.

“We anticipate that the scheme will not only act as a loyalty card for both shop front businesses and restaurant/cafe outlets, but also as a membership system to receive updates on businesses either by means of a new website giving promotions or by means of a regular newsletter.”

The idea - which could be up and running next year - was backed by Nigel Aitken, St Edmundsbury Borough Council's cabinet member responsible for the economy.

“I think it is a super idea and the more we can encourage people to use local shops the better,” he said. “It could also help support the independent retailers in town by giving them the opportunity for the independent stores to trade on a level playing field with the big retailers.”

Richard Howard, development manager at Barwells in Bury's Abbeygate Street, said he once discussed a similar idea of forming a co-operative of traders in the town centre.

“Anything that encourages people to make the break from the routine of supermarkets and to come into town and check out the sheer wealth and variety of options there are in the town centre is a really good idea,” he said. “There are a lot of quality shops in this town and I think it would be great to club together.”

However, he warned against anything that could appear to be begging for people's custom.

“We would have to thrash out exactly what the incentive was first - offsetting customer parking might be an idea,” he said. “There is a fine line between us saying we really value customers coming into Bury and appearing to be begging for custom, which, given the sheer quality of the town centre. is something we don't want to be doing.”

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