Food & Beverage (F&B) offerings are nowadays an integral part of any shopping centre. F&B and retail experiences are so connected that one can’t separate them. Customers expect versatility in an F&B offering, as more and more visit shopping centres just to eat or drink something. These are well-known facts within the shopping centre industry.

But what is the next big thing in the F&B industry in the Nordics? Which trends will impact shopping centres during the next 3-5 years? We asked the true experts: Citycon’s Nordic-level leasing teams and Commercial Directors. They develop the commercial concepts of Citycon shopping centres, and also meet annually hundreds of different F&B operators all over Nordics. This article is based on Citycon specialists’ responses to a survey in spring 2019. 

Vegetarianism, locally produced and organic food are megatrends

With a growing number of consumers following vegetarian or vegan diets, locally produced food will be a massive trend. Half of the survey’s respondents also expect that omnivorous consumers will limit the meat on their plates in the near future.

Citycon Survey illustration image of delicious bright-coloured poke bowls

Many consumers also prefer organic food, according to the survey. The drivers are both environmental concerns and a desire to choose healthier options. This concerns café offerings as well. Healthier products meet growing demand from customers.

“Consumers will more and more be interested in the ingredients of the food, its nutrition content and the origin of the raw materials.”

“Fish as a main ingredient, fish markets that both sell fish and serve it in a restaurant”

Restaurants with activities and grocerants, e.g. hybrid food & beverage/grocery store concepts

Some 74% of the respondents expect that the number of vegetarian restaurants will grow in the coming years.

“So far, we don’t have that many vegetarian/vegan restaurants – there is room to grow”

Another clear trend are concepts that combine eating with some entertainment activity, such as bowling. Over half expected growth in this category.

Future concepts might also combine F&B and retail more so than is done today. Book or fashion stores could have cafés or quality casual restaurants as part of their concepts, for example. Grocery store concepts might evolve in this direction, as more grocerants are expected to be seen in the future as well. 

“Concepts with a combination of small restaurant and organic/local food product store.”

Gourmet hamburgers have been a growing trend during the past few years, and their success may continue according to almost of the respondents. Some were a bit hesitant, though.

“Have we reached the peak in burgers already? It might be hard to do something different in this segment.”

Burgers or not, several respondents expect casual-but-quality concepts with reasonable prices to be successful. 

Restaurant offerings to grow and diversify in shopping centres

About two out of three respondents think that a growing number of casual, quality restaurants and unique non-chain concepts are needed in shopping centres. Most respondents don’t expect traditional fast food to increase its share in shopping centres any more.

Everyone expects the F&B share of shopping centres’ gross leasable area to grow, with a large majority (74%) believing that it will grow 1-2% during the next five years. None of the respondents expect the F&B share to decline. Almost everyone agreed that a good F&B offering may even be a crucial element in the shopping centre competition in the near future.

How should we develop our restaurant offering? Citycon Commercial Directors and leasing teams demand courage when seeking new F&B tenants.

“Say yes to the new concepts!”

“More food-related events in shopping centres”

One interesting question is how the growing consumption of food services will impact grocery store sales in the future. We don’t have a clear answer to this in Citycon’s crystal ball, since the jury was split. Approximately half of the respondents expects consumers to eat out more but buy less groceries. Another half expects consumers to spend more on food services but also keep their grocery baskets full.