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November 26, 2015

Savvy landlords and retailers are capturing consumer dollars through a clever mix of fashion and food

When the new Mall of Scandinavia in Stockholm opened last month, thousands of customers flocked to the food court before setting foot in a store.

Home to more than 20 restaurants, the Swedish mall reflects the on-going retail trend towards making shopping centres and other destinations, such as railway stations and airports, places where people want to spend time.

“Eating significantly extends the length of time customers stay at the shopping centre,” confirms Jonathan Doughty, head of JLL’s food consultancy business, Coverpoint.

“When you do food well, you can double the amount of money spent per customer and from the perspective of landlords and developers that’s very important.”

Research shows that consumers who eat during a shopping centre visit spend 18 per cent more and, on average, remain in the mall for an additional 27 minutes*.

Part of the mall master-plan

But success hinges on more than offering burgers and coffee. Providing the food customers want is crucial and mall offerings have changed beyond recognition. At the Mall of Scandinavia, shoppers can choose from everything from juice bars to fine dining restaurants.

“In the old days, especially at shopping centres in town, customers might leave to get their food – and sometimes they wouldn’t come back,” Doughty adds. “Now food doesn’t just hold them in a retail space. It looks after them and satisfies their needs.”

To this end, food is increasingly becoming part of the master-plan for a shopping centre. Food and beverage consultants look carefully at what sort of customers a shopping centre hopes to attract. Food retailers are then selected to satisfy this demand.

While centrally situated food courts were the retail F&B model of the nineties, shopping centres now mix this with outlets spread throughout the centre. This caters to customers who want a short-stop coffee and those who prefer a sit down meal.

And while national and international fast food brands are important – burgers and sandwich shops are still mall mainstays –  centres are responding to the trend for more authentic food.

Prioritising provenance and the quality of ingredients has opened up opportunities for smaller scale local and regional operators in many European shopping centres.

Food destinations

Food doesn’t just boost retail sales, however. It can turn a mall into a food destination in its own right – and this too, means money.

In the UK, shopping centres like Trinity Leeds have significantly added to the city’s food landscape. And Bluewater in Kent and the Stratford Centre in Manchester contain businesses approaching £100 million worth of food turnover. Malls in Romania, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and the UAE are also designing their retail spaces as food destinations.

Dwell time is the difference between retail success and failure and this new gastronomic force should offer mall owners, investors and retailers food for thought.

*figures supplied by Coniq

Jonathan Doughty
Head of EMEA Foodservice Consulting

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