A special fund launched to support the UK’s high streets is backing businesses and loyal shoppers in one of Lancashire’s most historic market towns.
Kirkham has long offered a great range of independent shops and high street businesses.
While many town centres are struggling with large numbers of vacant units, there is a real buzz around Kirkham right now with high occupancy levels of its retail units, many new businesses opening and a dedicated local business group supporting and promoting traders.
And the popular Kirkham High Street Loyalty Card Scheme is a key part of this as it continues to go from strength to strength thanks to funding from the Government’s Welcome Back Fund which was set up to encourage people to use their high streets again following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scheme sees shoppers who spend £5 in participating stores receive a stamp on their Loyalty Card. Once the card is complete with 12 stamps it is placed in a prize draw with the chance to win hundreds of pounds in high street vouchers. Since the scheme was launched in 2020 more than £5,000 has been given away in prizes.
Heidi Hopkinson, co-owner of Serendipity House gift shop on Poulton Street and Chair of Kirkham Business Group, said: “Kirkham has so many wonderful independent shops and businesses that we wanted to come up with something that helped promote them and create customer loyalty at the same time.
“The Loyalty Card was launched by the Business Group to encourage people to visit their local shops regularly. It’s not about how much a customer spends, but about repeat visits and we are delighted by how well it is supported by both shops and customers.
“The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but if there is one silver lining it is that people have rediscovered their local high streets again. There is no doubt Kirkham is on the up, there is a real buzz about the place, many new businesses are opening and it is wonderful to see local people using their local shops.”
The Welcome Back Fund is backed by £56m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Fylde Borough Council successfully bid for £243,500 through the Welcome Back Fund and the authority is using its grant in a variety of ways such as funding town centre improvements and supporting local business groups promote retail, hospitality and the visitor economy.
In Kirkham, the fund is being used to help cover the cost of producing the Loyalty Cards and marketing the scheme to the wider community.
Jayne Gregson, who is a director at PW Web, Design and Print which has been on Preston Street for more than 30 years, and prints the loyalty cards, said: “It is very exciting times in Kirkham right now with all the regeneration work that is planned.
“What is absolutely vital is that businesses on the high street are supported and that starts with local people. It is great to see so many people now using local, independent shops, bars, restaurants and businesses.
“The Loyalty Card is a great way for people to support local traders through repeat visits as well as the chance to win a big prize. It is brilliant to see it going from strength to strength and we are delighted to be receiving support from the Welcome Back Fund to help us promote it locally.”
A £10m regeneration masterplan – funded through Fylde Borough Council, Lancashire County Council, Historic England and the Government’s Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) – is underway in Kirkham.
Its aim is to revitalise the town’s historic high street with improvements to roads, pavements, open spaces, shopfronts as well as bringing empty buildings back into use and creating new community facilities.
Cllr Karen Buckley, Leader of Fylde Council, said: “Kirkham is leading the way in Fylde with its Loyalty Card Scheme and I'm delighted that Fylde Council can continue to support this initiative using the Welcome Back Fund.
“Having recently visited the town centre, I noticed a vibrancy on the high street and a great sense of anticipation for the regeneration project. Shopping locally will boost the businesses as we recover from Covid and the loyalty scheme includes a great bonus with regular prizes on offer. I hope as many people as possible will join up and support Kirkham."
Progress continues to be made on the Kirkham Futures regeneration scheme, as Fylde Council’s elected members voted unanimously to approve a capital expenditure of £4m for the Phase 1 Public Realm works and to award the contract to Eric Wright Civil Engineering Ltd following a successful procurement exercise.
Come to Kirkham Market Square on 13th August 2022 between 10:30am - 2:30pm to meet the artists commissioned to transform Kirkham's Town Centre, and have a go at creating your own artwork using the techniques being demonstrated by the artists!
Exciting events are set to take place in Kirkham this June, with the premiere of an animated folktale created especially for Kirkham with the involvement of local school children and the community, a heritage trail, and a big bash evening of celebration.