Businesses in Sunderland city centre are being encouraged to take advantages of initiatives in the city by leaders of the Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID).
Government restrictions eased in April, allowing outdoor hospitality and retail to reopen, giving many outlets a much-needed boost.
While the initial boom time following a long period of lockdown will undoubtedly see businesses start to thrive again, the BID is asking for city centre organisations to think more long term.
And it is now highlighting a variety of schemes available in the city to keep customers engaged in the coming months, from learning new skills to better connecting with shoppers.
One of the initiatives which encourages local spending is the Sunderland City Gift Card, a joint initiative between the BID and Sunderland City Council, which already has more than 120 traders signed up.
Any business which is not part of the scheme can do so at no cost and means they have access to a huge amount of spending power.
Those looking to build their online presence could benefit from Sunderland Software City’s business support programme, which offers 12 hours of fully funded help and advice on digital growth.
Sunderland College is another organisation offering free training, with distance learning courses in a variety of sectors including health and social care, leisure and tourism, management, retail and the public sector.
Businesses hoping to drive more customers through the door could benefit from signing up to an initiative like loyalty app ParkingPerx, where shoppers can redeem free parking for spending with certain companies.
And those currently operating without an online presence can build a virtual storefront with ShopAppy.com, which also allows customers to shop from multiple stores in one transaction.
Sharon Appleby, chief executive at Sunderland BID, believes the initiatives could help a wide range of businesses.
“It is wonderful to see Sunderland opening up again and people out in droves to support the high street after being away for so long,” she said.
“While an initial surge is great, it’s really important that businesses have the tools to keep the momentum going in the coming months – especially for those who have yet to reopen.”