Coffee shops: The New Local?


Coffee shops: The New Local?

People sitting in a coffee shop

The coffee shop sector is one of the UK's greatest performing sectors and one which is predicted to experience strong growth for the foreseeable future. Coffee shops are quite literally popping up here, there and everywhere, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was the result of UK consumers' growing thirst for the drink.

Surprisingly, however, our thirst for coffee is no greater than it was a few years ago. In fact, according to analysts at Barclays, coffee consumption was lower last year than it was in 2006, and the UK is still lagging far behind other European countries in terms of annual coffee consumption.

So, if we aren't upping our intake of coffee, why is the sector performing so well? Vicki Stern, leisure analyst at Barclays, attributed the growth of coffee chops to changing consumer habits. "The way in which coffee is being consumed has changed with people now visiting coffee shops where they might previously have consumed instant coffee at home or in the workplace," she commented.

Chief executive of Whitbread, Andy Harrison, says that for families and women in particular, coffee shops provide a social gathering space similar to a pub. However, as Harrison points out: "pubs were more about males and the evening, coffee shops are [open] all day, more female [orientated] and certainly more family."

According to Harrison, growth in female independence and spending power is also a possible reason for the coffee shop growth. And so too is online shopping, which has left consumers with more free time at the weekend to catch up with their friends over a coffee.

Whereas UK consumers used to be happy getting their caffeine fix at home, now they want to venture out to their local coffee shop for the whole experience. Grabbing a coffee has turned into a social event; an event that everyone wants to be a part of.

Back to Blog