Foodservice and food courts have been a big trend in malls for some time now. ECE recently published a study on foodservice development. The study shows that 40% of visitors already choose a shopping center primarily based on its foodservice offer—and not because of other existing assortments. 60% of respondents use foodservice in centers almost every time they visit. The current study analyzed, among other things, the perception of customers and caterers in terms of foodservice in general and food courts in particular.
“We already knew that foodservice was a big trend. That the foodservice offer is already the most important decisive criterion for a center visit for so many people surprised us, however. Foodservice helps turn shopping centers from pure places to shop into new ‘places to be’ and develops them into places of leisure,” said Joanna Fisher, Managing Director Center Management at ECE. Gastronomy is thus increasingly establishing itself as a significant differentiating feature compared to what the online trade can offer.
Coffee before Asian cuisine
The study also asked customers what they were most interested in. 44% of respondents rated specialty coffee in the first place, followed by Asian dishes (37%). These were followed by fast food (35%), sandwiches (27%), and Italian food (26%).
The number of customers availing themselves of foodservice in ECE shopping centers doubled from 2004 to 2014. At the same time, the proportion of foodservice areas rose sharply—usually by around 5% up to 10 to 12% in recently opened centers. Since 2010, the total area for foodservice in German ECE centers has increased by 38%. The food share will increase even further, particularly by turning over areas in older malls to foodservice uses. There are currently already 1,500 catering tenants in ECE centers who occupy spaces ranging from 10 Sq. m to 1,000 Sq. m (average: 122 Sq. m).
The foodservice tenants in ECE centers are mostly satisfied with their situation. 80% would recommend their respective mall. Above all, they value the constant high frequency, technical equipment, and the synergies between the tenants. Weather independence and a diverse selection were also highlighted positively.
Fast food demand
The main reasons for visitors’ use of food courts were unsurprising: 55% chose them because the food there is fast and convenient. The possibility for several people to order different dishes and still be able to eat together in a common seating area is well liked. 82% appreciate the wide range. In addition, 63% of visitors emphasized outstanding architecture. At the forefront of customer service wishes stood wireless LAN, mobile phone charging stations, and offers for families and children like microwaves for baby food, high chairs, and play areas.
Around 2,500 visitors and tenants were interviewed in ECE centers for the study. In addition, the company TNS Infratest conducted a survey of shopping center customers representative for Germany on behalf of ECE.