How gift cards can help to drive footfall in off-peak times

The majority of businesses suffer quiet periods at some point in the week, month or year. For restaurants, it might be that pre-dinner time rush between 2pm and 4pm. For hotels, it might be the start of the year after the Christmas chaos between January and May before kids break up from school and people begin travelling a little more. Zoos and attractions often struggle to attract crowds during the winter season. Retail can see quiet times hit at any point outside of the October to January peak season.

Let’s face it – off-peak times are never particularly kind to business sales. You need to stay open and continue paying staff but you’re just not seeing the footfall to offset the associated costs. It’s a common dilemma. You can, however, utilise these quiet periods to give you the opportunity to focus your attention on other things – namely your gift card programme.

'Come in we're open' sign hanging in a shop window.

The good news is that gift cards have a lot of potential in boosting sales and driving footfall in off-peak times. Take advantage of this quieter period and ensure that your gift card programme is really delivering for you. We at Savvy are here to explain just how to do that and how we can help.

Ensure your gift card can only be used at certain times

Every business wants customers to continue spending during their quiet times. Wouldn’t it be great if you could restrict your gift card usage to meet this need? With Savvy’s new gift card platform configurations, now you can.

Let’s say for example that you run a hotel. Whilst you still need to have paid staff working, and pay utilities and equipment expenses as normal during your quiet months from January to May, it proves pretty hard to fill all available rooms. As a result, your profitability suffers.

Savvy allows you to place restrictions on your promotional gift cards around these quiet times of the year (or week or day) to help combat this. It drives footfall in off-peak times. This encourages the gift card user into your premises to spend their gift card value (and hopefully a little extra) when business is quiet and you need the sales.

And with any kind of business, it can really put customers off visiting if your premises are looking empty. They may assume it’s because your products, food, drinks or service are sub-par. People attract people. Getting your gift card users in during off-peak times can spark a chain reaction and drive in additional customers. This creates that all-important buzz and atmosphere that makes an experience in retail or hospitality more enjoyable. As a result, you might just keep people coming back for more.

Tailor your gift card marketing

Placing restriction controls on your gift cards doesn’t have to feel like you’re limiting your customers. Cleverly tailor your gift card marketing activity to create a buzz around these specific times or days that you’d like your gift cards to be used.

If you run a restaurant, you may decide to restrict your promotional gift card usage to lunchtime between Monday to Thursday to fill tables and drive footfall during off-peak times. If this is the case, try marketing a ‘mid-week lunch club’ where gift card users can redeem their vouchers and give it an exclusive feel.

You could even offer a free soft drink for all redeemed gift cards during the lunch club to create more of an incentive for your customers. Perhaps you could offer dishes on a ‘secret’ menu that are only available during these off-peak times to encourage customers in and make them feel like they are part of something a little more special.

Ensure the basket value meets a minimum value threshold

It can sometimes be frustrating when a customer redeems their gift card against sale items rather than your full-priced items – especially if the basket value of sale items is not any higher than normal. Any business owner with a gift card programme will know that you often rely on the uplift that gift cards can bring, with the average additional spend on a gift card in the UK being 35% of the card value.

However, you might decide to offer promotional gift cards to sales channels where the minimum basket value is agreed in advance. For example, you can offer B2B clients a 15% discount on your promotional gift cards but they cannot be redeemed during the Christmas period and must have a minimum basket value of £50.

You’re giving terrific value to the end customer, but the terms of engagement are balanced. You can enjoy the peace of mind that you’ll be making money from your sale. As a result, your gift card uplift should stay healthy.

Add Savvy’s analytics platform to the mix and you can gain a greater understanding of your gift card uplift as a whole, with data exposing which sales channels are performing poorly or superbly when it comes to uplift, allowing you to move forward and focus your efforts accordingly.

Offer a free gift card as an incentive during off-peak times

You could also use gift cards as a way of rewarding those who spend with you during your off-peak times. These gift cards could hold a minimum value in order to avoid eroding your margin and to ensure they still make financial sense. This incentive could be the difference between someone choosing to visit during your quiet period versus your busy period.

Similarly, you could consider implementing a referral programme where a gift card with off-peak restrictions is offered as a reward for any customer who refers a friend or family member. Not only are you encouraging your customer back during off-peak times with their gift card and strengthening their relationship with your brand, but you’re attracting brand-new referral customers to impress in the process.

Whatever promotion you decide to run, just be sure to market it sufficiently so that your customers are aware that it’s running. Utilise your social media platforms, website, POS materials and of course your staff to share the promotion details and as a result, drive footfall during off-peak times.



Don’t let quiet times and seasons slow you down. It’s time to utilise the power of gift cards to drive footfall during off-peak times.

Need more control over your gift card programme? Want to make your gift cards work harder for you? At Savvy, we’re all about helping you win. We put you in control and give you the power of our gift card management and analytics data to level up your gift card programme.

Contact us and let’s start a conversation. We’re available via our website or give us a call on 0870 735 2829 (UK), 0190 22752 (Ireland) or 001 (502) 489 4439 (USA & Canada).

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