Research reveals shopping centre restaurants are a sector on the rise

Research reveals shopping centre restaurants are a sector on the rise

Research reveals shopping centre restaurants are a sector on the rise

Shopping and eating are two of the nation's most popular past-times, so it was bound to follow that shopping and entertainment centres would incorporate food venues into their design. After all, hungry shoppers need to refuel. However, for many years shopping centres haven't exactly been known for a creative range of options and have primarily been the domain of fast food outlets. But that's all changing.

Millennials are increasingly interested in buying fun rather than stuff. This trend, combined with the rise of e-commerce, has forced shopping and entertainment centres to diversify. Food and beverage outlets are no longer just seen as a tool for getting people to stay longer, but for getting them to visit in the first place.

The past few years have seen a rise in the quality and range of restaurants located in shopping and entertainment centres, and recent research conducted by the HospitalityGEM team reveals that 79% of diners believe this to be the case. The age group that was the most impressed by the changes were the key consumer group of 18-35 year-olds - 89% of this group reported a change for the better.

Our survey also found that tastes have changed when it comes to eating on the move whilst out shopping. Casual dining is proving particularly popular, with 77% of diners preferring this format, and there is evidence that some centres are attracting custom as a destination for eating out.

When it comes to how often diners choose to eat out and how long they spend lingering over their meals when visiting a shopping or entertainment complex, 60% stated they would do so 'sometimes' with 37% choosing 'always' or 'often'. But it appears that diners are keen to get back to their shopping once they have topped up their energy levels - the majority (57%) expect to spend just 30 minutes to one hour dining.

In fact, the quality has risen to the point where 50% of respondents cited a night out with family and friends as a reason to eat at a shopping or entertainment centre over the last year. However, there is still room for improvement - in particular, how to ensure that guests have an individual experience in an environment that can otherwise feel quite packaged. Only 8% of diners felt that the guest experience was better than that of a similar restaurant on the high street. The top areas chosen for improvement were cited as 'team behaviours and interactions' (30%) and 'appropriate pace of service' (26%). Additionally, 'atmosphere and cosiness' as well as 'noise levels' were also considered key.

So when you head out this weekend, chances are, you'll be thinking about the experience you want to have more than the things you want to buy.

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