New dimension at global trade fair uncovers latest in retail consumer psychology
Retail food service will be an important topic at global trade fair EuroShop 2020. At its new Food Service Equipment Dimension in Hall 14, EuroShop will show how the right food-service equipment and smart planning in retail—from special convenience and take-out concepts to attractive themed restaurants and even entire food worlds—can create new shopping experiences and customer loyalty. Taking place Feb. 16–20, 2020, at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany, EuroShop will offer eight Dimensions and occupy some 1.3 million sq. ft. of net exhibit space in 16 halls.
Retailers are increasingly focusing on food service. In fact, combining food with the shopping experience is considered a success formula for the future. Food-service offerings allow retailers to set themselves apart from the competition.
Proving popular in retail
Food service offers are booming in retail. Jumbo City in Amsterdam prepares soups, sushi, and sandwiches for its shoppers at an open kitchen. Carrefour brews beer at its Mons outlet. The London mini-supermarket chain Eat 17 brings in local street food partners. Interspar in Vienna offers take-out food and snacks prepared at its dedicated food service establishment on site.
While supermarkets in the U.S., Great Britain, and Benelux discovered culinary services early on, this market is now also gaining momentum in Germany. More and more food retailers and department stores—as well as fashion boutiques and bookstores—are now integrating food service units into their shops. “In 2019, the sector will generate gross revenue of around EUR 10 billion with retail food services in Germany,” says Olaf Hohmann of EHI Retail Institute. This is an increase of about 4% compared to 2017.
At 5.2 billion euros, the majority of retail gastronomic sales in Germany are achieved in food retailing. The rest is accounted for by shopping centers, gas stations, furniture stores, and other specialist retailers. The spectrum of concepts in food retail is wide and varied, ranging from little shops in the check-out area, bakery/coffee shops, and sushi and smoothie bars to gourmet stations and restaurants in the middle of the store. One flagship project is the outlet opened by Edeka retailer Zurheide in 2018. At the lavishly remodeled Crown complex in Düsseldorf’s city center, the retailer has installed 11 food courts with seating for 380 on two floors. Shoppers can find a Premium Beef Bar, a gourmet restaurant, a vegetarian restaurant, and a champagne bar.
Gaining ground in shopping centers
Food services are also gaining ground at shopping centers. While the percentage of floor space used for food services still stood at 6% some years ago, it can be as high as 20% at the new centers. At Hamburg’s modernized Europa Passage, the “FoodSky” brings together services as varied as snack bars and star-rated chefs. Operator ECE even goes one step further with “Foodtopia,” which opened in early September 2019 at MyZeil in Frankfurt. Visitors will find a food court on the top floor featuring a combination of international and regional concepts, coffee bars, lunch eateries, bars, and fine dining restaurants.
Retailers approach the online shopping trend with ideas and investment. Food service plays a key role in many concepts when facing the shrinking retail space. This becomes particularly evident with fashion department stores that are particularly affected by online shopping. According to ECE, good food services contribute to increasing the length and quality of stay at shopping malls. Some 60% of visitors make use of the food services during their visit, while 40% even select a shopping center by the food on offer there. The fact that the use of food services is then often linked with other purchases on site has long been confirmed in a consumer survey recently conducted with Nuremberg GfK. According to this survey, almost one in two food service customers uses the opportunity to also shop for other everyday goods.
Altered societal conditions also help the trend toward more food service offers. Fixed mealtimes hardly exist anymore, and eating out replaces home cooked meals. Convenience food is a mega trend, especially when considering demand for convenient, ready-to-eat meals—as well as the growing focus on health and well-being—are key drivers for new service offers.
In open-plan kitchens, supermarket chefs personally prepare meals, salads, soups, and sandwiches, thereby catering to consumer preferences for fresher and craft foods. Take-out products – whether snacks are “to go” or ready-to-cook meals that only take a short time to prepare back home – are among the biggest revenue generators in retail food service. According to the EHI study, food retail generates about 58% of its food-service sales – approximately EUR 3 billion – with convenience food in the check-out area. Only 4% of turnover is accounted for by food consumed on site.
Being involved in food services is not a guaranteed success. This business comes with considerable challenges for retailers who focus on experience, catering, and in-house production. The number of requirements and tasks are increasing, and there is still the investment in food-service kitchens and design. Where functional furnishings sufficed in the past, a great deal of emphasis today is placed on lifestyle and beautifully designed interiors because the quality of stay is key. Also, processes need to be professionalized and run by expert employees. Finding the right staff is one of the biggest problems in the industry.
Being addressed by suppliers
The manufacturers of food-service equipment are now addressing these growing demands with matching solutions. More organic products, more sustainability, more E-commerce, and more convenience are mega trends that will leave an even stronger mark on retail worldwide. Food plays an enormously important role in consumers’ lives. Although consumers tend to cook less often, their demands on the food front are rising. Eating habits are getting ever more personalized, and more and more people take an interest in the food they are consuming. They want to know where their food comes from, along with how it is processed and prepared. This gives retailers an opportunity for added activities.
On “indulgence evenings,” retailers can inform their shoppers about nutritional facts, invite producers to explain cultivation and production methods, or bring in top chefs to organize gourmet evenings and cooking workshops. Experts agree that in the long run, “shopping venues” will have mixed-use spaces. Department stores and supermarkets will no longer just serve a supply function but become social meeting points.