Could York get its own pound? Local currency could boost city shops

Stay local, pay local… York Monopoly. Photograph: YorkMix

York might soon have its own pound.

A loyalty scheme that rewards customers for shopping locally could be launched in the city – and our very own currency is under consideration.

For every £1 spent in independent shops and cafes, 70p stays in the local economy, but this falls to 5p for every pound spent online or at a chain store, according to council officers.

City of York Council is now proposing to launch a scheme to encourage people to shop regularly in local stores and help businesses grow.

Exciting project

Councillors discussed what type of programme could work for York – including the possibility of discounts, a stamp card or even the opportunity to launch a local currency similar to the Bristol Pound scheme.

Cllr Danny Myers, speaking at the economy and place scrutiny committee meeting, said it was an exciting project.

He added:

  • Rewards, including cultural activities, could come into it because my big concern is around the divide within culture – the have and the have nots of who is accessing culture in the city and how inclusive that is.

    So a reward scheme that may include benefits such as cultural activities is something I’m particularly passionate about.

Cllr Chris Steward suggested the loyalty scheme should be tied to the council’s work with Indie York, an organisation promoting local businesses.

The meeting heard that Selby District Council launched a savers card in 2017 that offers customers discounts at independent shops, while the Independent Sheffield scheme involves people buying a membership card which entitles them to discounts at independent cafes, bars and shops.

People ‘priced out’

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Danny Myers said residents can feel “priced out” of York and more should be done to make the city inclusive.

Cllr Michael Pavlovic, chair of the economy and place scrutiny committee added: “We want to explore every way possible to encourage residents and other shoppers to come into the city centre regularly.

“The independent sector of retailers are a vital component in York’s unique offer, and whatever ideas are put forward need their support.”

Under the plans, the council would work with traders to develop a city-wide scheme.

The proposals will be put to the economy and place policy development committee for further consideration.