Eating is the new shopping

If floor space trends are anything to go by, then eating is the new shopping.

A new report from JLL shows that, in Europe in particular, the past decade has seen F&B (food and beverage) operators double the floor space they take in shopping centers, from 7 percent to 15 percent of GLA (gross leasable area).

This trend is not detrimental to retailers though, as customers who eat during a shopping centre trip spend 18 percent more in overall transactions.

The trend is catching up in the UAE as well, which is expecting to add more than 1,000 additional F&B outlets by 2018.

“This offers an opportunity in the market for home-grown and unique concepts catering to the diverse nationalities that live here [as well as] tourists. Walk through the Ripe Market on a Friday morning in Zabeel Park or the food trucks at Kite Beach and you can see the F&B diversity that is gaining a foothold in the UAE,” says Andrew Williamson, National Director – Head of Retail, JLL MENA.

JLL predicts that the demand for Asian food operators in particular will shoot up going ahead, as customers from China and other markets travel more overseas.

It redits these trends to food ‘gourmetization’ – the increasing desire for deluxe dining experiences – as well as the fact that with online shopping becoming a norm, shoppers are looking to get experiences they can’t replicate at home from their visit to the mall.

“In a new online world experience is king and gastronomy will be the social glue that will hold retail spaces of the future together. The rise in online sales means that consumers are looking for leisure and culinary experiences from their shopping center visits as this is something that is still impossible to do online,” says Jonathan Doughty, MD of Coverpoint, JLL’s food consulting business.