A survey by Deloitte last month of 1,200 UK adults found that 52 per cent prefer to frequent a coffee or tea shop on their local high street, compared to just 18 per cent opting for in-town shopping centres and
11 per cent who favour an out-of-town shopping centre.
Similarly, whether eating out at a restaurant (43 per cent) or heading for a night out at a bar or club (28 per cent), the high street remains the preferred destination.
The results come at a time when many restaurant chains are looking to out-of-town locations to grow their estates. A number of high-profile shopping centres have also been built in recent years that have attracted many restaurant brands. These include Westfield shopping centres in London’s Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush and Trinity Leeds, which count high-street brands such as Bill’s, Byron, GBK and Nando’s among their ranks.
Tesco’s deals with Giraffe and Harris + Hoole, meanwhile, means both the family-friendly restaurant chain and the coffee-shop brand will increase their presence across the supermarket’s large retail park shops, which the chain believes can become popular eating and drinking destinations. This is a tactic long spearheaded by the likes of Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito, both of which operate a large number of restaurants in cinema and bowling multiplexes.
However, the Deloitte survey highlights the opportunity that remains on the UK’s high streets, with 36 per cent of respondents saying they would like more choice of restaurants and 25 per cent calling for a greater variety of bars and coffee shops. “Food and beverage operators have an increasingly important part to play in the development of the high street. They need to innovate to meet the changing demands of the modern consumer,” said Jon Lake, a corporate finance director in the licensed retail group at Deloitte.
“However, the high street needs help to evolve in response to the changing landscape. An important factor will be the need to address its fragmented ownership and management structure, together with policies that support the regeneration of town centres."
This article first appeared in the December 2014 issue of Restaurant magazine, out now.