Research

Food and beverage offerings influence shopping behaviour

Consumers want an experience from visiting a shopping centre and the availability of food and beverage offerings is a must-have for many especially when choosing where to shop.

According to the 2015 Food and Beverage Consumer Survey, 24% of consumers indicated that the food and beverage offerings available within a shopping centre are fairly important when deciding which shopping centre to visit, a further 35% considered this to be very important with an additional 26% considering this extremely important.

In partnership with leading global real estate advisor, CBRE, Broll surveyed 1,025 consumers across South Africa in order to understand consumer perceptions regarding food and beverage within shopping centres. Results show that 50% of shoppers see stopping for something to eat and drink as an important part of the experience when visiting a centre.

A year ago, the Retail Consumer Survey 2014, revealed that consumers think about the overall experience of the shopping destination and not just about the choice of retail offerings. However, they also place a huge importance on factors such as mall cleanliness (being most important), followed by security, price of products and availability of coffee shops and free Wi-Fi among others.

Elaine Wilson, Divisional Director for Research at Broll Property Group explains that the food and beverage sector continues to grow both terms in terms of size and importance in South Africa.

“The opening of new centres and revamping of existing ones almost always see the addition of food and beverage facilities which offer consumers a much wider variety of choice.

“Food and beverage facilities within a shopping centre can result in shoppers spending more time at the centre and undertaking additional activities even if these were not initially planned,” she says.

Wilson points out that 65% of shoppers will visit retail stores even if their main reason for going to a shopping centre was to eat or drink. This was found to be more applicable to 72% of young people (16-24 year olds) versus 53% of those aged between 55 and 65 years old.

“Furthermore, 56% of consumers indicated that they tend to spend more time shopping if they have something to eat or drink while at a shopping centre.”

Survey highlights include:

· 36% of shoppers always or nearly always have something to eat or drink when visiting a shopping centre, with a further 25% indicating they do this very often.

· 57% indicated they will visit a shopping centre just to eat or drink.

· 56% of shoppers indicated that eating or drinking is often a spur of the moment decision

· 56% want to see more innovative food offerings

· 51% want healthy / organic options

· 51% want pop up restaurants or new concepts

Also of interest, are the top five factors that consumers regard as extremely or very important when looking for somewhere to eat or drink in a shopping centre. These include, quality of food (91%), value for money (82%), quick service (75%), comfortable seating (75%) and a convenient location (67%).

The survey also shows that there are three top places where consumers choose to have something to eat or drink (including takeaways) – restaurant chains (82%) fast food outlets (70%) and independent restaurants (51%).

South African Trends

Preston Gaddy, Divisional Director for Strategic Retail Leasing at Broll says the survey underlines the importance of having food and beverage offerings in a shopping centre. However, he notes that the centres’ choice of offerings will differ, for example, large shopping centres will have a wide range of offerings and will also have food courts. Smaller and convenience ones will have more fast food and drive through type offerings.

We also notice that a large percentage of defaulting tenants are in this sector, therefore, it is important for landlords to thoroughly vet franchisees when they sign lease agreements, he explains. It is critical for landlords to partner with reputable franchisees (also having knowledge of the franchisors and how they operate) to avoid situations where franchisees set up shop and within a short space of time, they close down.

“The meltdown of the frozen yoghurt is an example where we see that “fads” are not ideal for this sector. Landlords can ensure against this by checking the franchisee business model to see if it is sustainable and that projections are in line with rental obligations,” says Gaddy.

EMEA Trends

Meanwhile, data from the CBRE Food and Beverage Report that surveyed 22,000 shoppers in 22 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa show that a third of consumers visit a shopping centre purely to eat out, and two thirds say that the food and beverage provision is a key consideration when choosing which shopping centre to visit.

Peter Gold, Head of EMEA Cross Border Retail at CBRE explains why getting the offer right can generate significant results.

“An innovative, well curated food and beverage line-up provides a richer experience to shopping centre visitors, an important factor in encouraging them to make regular return visits,” says Gold.

The question then is, could a more eye-catching food and beverage offer detract from the centre’s primary purpose – that of shopping? Gold suggests not, saying: “Consumers tell us they will stay longer in a mall if they’ve enjoyed eating and drinking there. That said, as we’ve seen within the retail sector, they are much choosier than they’ve ever been. They demand healthier, better quality food and want to engage with fresh and innovative ideas.”