Britain’s high streets are facing a tougher time at the moment, with consumers pulling the purse strings tighter. That’s likely to have a knock-on effect for the UK’s independent coffee shops. It’s certainly hit Starbucks, which reported that high rent costs and the state of the economy and political outlook have contributed to a £17m loss this year. Yet it’s not all doom and gloom. The number of independent coffee shops increased by 4% over the last year, with a total value of around £2.4bn.
The results were published in the most recent report from Allegra World Coffee Portal: The Rise of Independents UK 2019. According to its research, despite the economic situation, 80% of independent coffee shops experienced positive sales performance between March 2018 and March 2019. Allegra forecasts that the current figure of 7,022 independent cafés will grow to more than 8,000 by 2024.
And which factors do you think were attributed to the success of that 80%? Everything you’d expect: quality of coffee and quality of service.
So, what do we know about customers who choose to drink in rather than take away? That there’s every chance they’ll order a second drink. The sit-in customer has more potential for that visit than the takeaway customer. Interestingly, Allegra’s research also revealed that 70+% of independent coffee shop customers buy coffee to sit in and enjoy, whereas only 56% of chain coffee shops stay to sup. Which just goes to show that a) the potential is greater for independents than you might think, and b) that you’re providing a more alluring, enjoyable experience.
You’re winning on service quality, too, with 21% of independent café customers choosing their coffee purchase based on how they’re served, compared to just 16% for chains.
18% choose the atmosphere at an independent, more than twice the 8% favouring chains on this basis.
Allegra makes it clear that with tough trading conditions, things aren’t going to be easy, but it strikes a positive note for coffee shops prepared to put customer experience first through environment, coffee and service quality. Those who stand out from their local crowd should reap the rewards.