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      • Could this bank holiday Monday be terrible news for coffee shops?

      • It’s the May bank holiday weekend, when half the people in the UK look forward to three days off work, and the other half – service industry workers – work twice as hard as a result. And this May bank holiday, after what has felt like a never-ending winter, looks like being a beauty for much of the UK. Warm and dry. Perfect bank holiday weather. Perfect coffee shop or beer garden weather. So, why on earth would a beautiful bank holiday Monday be terrible news for a business serving people exactly what the weather demands?

        Balmy bank holidays boost coffee shop profits (and complacency)

        After the shocker of a winter, where the UK’s economic growth plunged along with the temperature, shivering on the pavement at 0.1%, every restaurant, coffee shop, pub and eatery will enjoy a busy bank holiday. Busy by comparison, anyway. But the busier it is, even if it’s a record-breaker – in temperatures as well as the numbers of iced lattes poured – the more dangerous that could be for your coffee shop.

        Not for your immediate bank balance, of course. But for your long-term strategy as a business owner. Because busy periods tease you into thinking everything is going to be ok. Those businesses which enjoy long-term success never stop thinking. If they’re not endlessly striving for perfection in what they do, then they’re working hard on customer engagement and social marketing; if they’re not honing their offering, they’re reinventing what they do and creating a local niche for themselves.

        The beauty of a niche

        Most coffee shops aren’t themed. But independent coffee shops are often known for doing something in a particular way, whether it’s the sideline in Cornish pasties or operating as a regular co-working space for freelancers and remote workers.

        You can go a step further though. How about a coffee shop with the ultimate conscience, where every item of food and drink packaging is Vegware, and where the produce is not just Fairtrade, but vegan? As well as specialty milks, vegan coffee shops offer a stunning array of speciality milks, like oat milk, soya milk, coconut milk, almond milk… the list goes on and on.

        Or our personal favourite here at Nationwide Coffee: the vinyl record coffee shop. We’re not sure which was the first to combine two of our favourite things, great coffee and the tactile wonder of real records, but we love them for it. It’s a simple idea, with the resurgence in popularity of LPs making a what might have seemed a geeky dream a viable reality. With the right premises, you could get licensed for coffee cocktails and live music too, for regular events and a broader appeal.

        Is your coffee shop something special?

        So, is there something missing in your town? Is there a coffee-related identity you can create which will reinforce and increase your popularity? It’s worth thinking about.

        Not least because at least as far back last summer, so-called experts have been predicting a plateau for coffee shop growth in the UK. In September 2017 it was reported that investment bank Citigroup had predicted no more than “four to five years’ structural growth remain in the UK coffee market”. Now, we think that the International Coffee Organization’s 2016 figures, which show the UK population drinking an average 3 coffees per capita, Germany 6, Norway 9 and Finland more than 12, demonstrate there’s scope for growth. But can you predict the behaviour of the public? Nope, nor can we.

        Even as the heat rises this weekend, keep your thinking caps on. Whether it’s the best coffee, the best latte art, the most imaginative concoctions, the comfiest indoor and outdoor seating or a brilliant niche offering like the cafés making music the focal point, you need to be widely known for something to stay ahead of the competition.