People who shop and dine in Southlake can get cash back from the city for visiting the stores and restaurants.
Last month, Southlake did a “soft launch” of the Southlake Open Rewards program, which gives people 5% cash back on purchases from one of the 320 businesses listed in an app called Open Rewards.
Redeeming the funds isn’t difficult as people download the Open Rewards app on their Apple or Android phones, said Daniel Cortez, director of economic development and tourism.
People can link a credit card in the app and the 5% reward will appear on the card, or they can take a photo of the receipt from the business and submit it for the cash back.
Cortez said the idea to start a cash back program came from analyzing sales tax data that showed revenue went down during the winter and spring.
The pandemic also took a toll on businesses and consumers, he said.
“Inflation hits everyone including businesses,” he said.
Businesses are dealing with increases in rent and payroll, he said.
Cortez said Southlake uses an economic development database called Bludot, and the company suggested that Southlake explore using the Open Source app. Las Vegas and Arlington, Virginia, have similar cash back programs.
“My primary role is how can we help businesses? If it’s a question of supporting businesses and helping consumers, what would motivate people?” he said.
Cortez said he immediately thought about credit card rewards programs.
“Businesses are busy providing services with restaurants making great meals and retailers selling their products. We want to drive tourism in Southlake,” he said.
Cortez said the city allocated $75,000 to fund the cash back program from hotel occupancy tax revenue. Southlake has four hotels.
Since the cash back program started in January, Southlake has given over $3,000 back to people who visited businesses and used the app, Cortez said. There are 550 users and there have been 4,600 transactions, Cortez said.
Cortez said the program will continue through late spring or early summer, depending on how long the funds last.
Businesses don’t have to do anything other than encourage their customers to get the Open Rewards app.
Cortez said he and his economic development team are visiting businesses to make sure they are aware of the program.
About 60% of sales tax dollars come from people outside of Southlake, Cortez said.
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