Food continues to drive retail growth as new year begins

food-trendsby Dan Rafter

The holiday season is coming to an end. Did you gain weight? You’re not alone. Food is an integral part of the holidays. But that’s not all. According to a new report from Colliers International, food is an important fuel for the retail business all year long.

That’s because consumers continue to eat out, and continue to consider dining out as an important leisure activity. Colliers cites a report stating that 80 percent of consumers say dining out with family members and friends is a better use of their leisure time than is cooking and cleaning up. This is no surprise to anyone who’s spent too much time washing

The holiday season is coming to an end. Did you gain weight? You’re not alone. Food is an integral part of the holidays. But that’s not all. According to a new report from Colliers International, food is an important fuel for the retail business all year long.

That’s because consumers continue to eat out, and continue to consider dining out as an important leisure activity. Colliers cites a report stating that 80 percent of consumers say dining out with family members and friends is a better use of their leisure time than is cooking and cleaning up. This is no surprise to anyone who’s spent too much time washing dishes in the kitchen during the winter holidays.

Eating out has become such a cherished activity, the average U.S. resident dines out four to five times a week, according to the Colliers report.

Because of this, restaurants are becoming more important tenants in retail centers. Daniel Ortega, a vice president with Colliers International, estimates that food-related spaces take up 25 percent to 30 percent more square footage in retail centers today than they did 10 years ago.

And don’t expect this trend to lessen. The National Restaurant Association predicted that 2016 would rank as the seventh consecutive year of growth in restaurant-business sales. The association predicted restaurant industry sales would reach $783 billion this year.

Not all restaurants are created equal, though. Colliers reports that fast-casual chains have seen the biggest growth in the restaurant segment, seeing an increase in sales of $3.4 billion in 2015 when compared to one year earlier. Consumers want convenient and fast meals. But increasingly, they want these meals to be healthy. This means that the traditional fast-food drive-through has seen its growth slow.

Colliers says that chef-driven restaurants are also thriving in the fast-casual space, eateries often headed by television chefs and personalities. According to Colliers, 65 percent of consumers say they would be more likely to go to a fast-casual restaurant that was gourmet or chef-driven.

These trends are inspiring developers to focus on the importance of cross-shopping. This happens when consumers have a meal and then, say, head over to the clothing store or athletics retailer across the street or parking lot.

Developers, though, need to encourage consumers to cross-shop.

“Food-related cross-shopping doesn’t just happen,” said Brian Whitfield, vice president with Colliers in the Detroit market. “Strategy and good design are key, particularly when it comes to parking.”

Developers need to consider what shopers walk by after parking their cars, that retailers are open after dinner hours and that retailers offer window displays are attractive and enticing enough to encourage diners to open their wallets in nearby retailers.

Colliers says that a growing number of retail centers are moving to mixed-use formats to help promote cross-shopping. Shared parking fields between restaurants and retail establishments encourages diners to shop after finishig their meals.

A winning combination? Today, it’s often mixed-use developments that include restaurants joined by offices, multifamily developments, shops, movie theaters and entertainment venues. These urban enclaves are a big draw for millennial workers and the employees working in nearby offices, Colliers reports.

 

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