A couple enjoy a coffee together illustrating the importance of the food and beverage offer in the success of retail.

According to the global retail real estate agent, JLL more than 40% of shopping malls are upgrading their F&B offer. The dedicated mall space for this sector is now up 5% from a decade ago and is predicted to reach 20% by 2025. The transformation taking place is driven by consumer demand for more from the retail experience. Customers, particularly millennials, value time over things and the retail space has adapted to become an attractive destination in its own right, offering visitors an experience that is much more than just retail.

Entertainment plays a valuable part but the food and beverage offer is up there as a key part of that overall experience. Artisan food halls are transforming malls across the globe and the trend shows no signs of slowing with the UK branded restaurant market estimated to reach £22bn next year. On the high street, restaurants and catering outlets are the only category of chain operator to have seen unbroken growth in UK branch numbers over the last 17 years.

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Recently there has been extraordinary diversification in the food and beverage sector driven by changing consumer eating habits and the demand for new cuisines fuelled by the rise of street food vendors. The trend has injected vibrancy into the market and restaurateurs have been able to capitalise on the availability of premises left by other high street retailers closing their doors.

The food and beverage offer is important to the health of the UK high street, it encourages consumers back and increases the dwell time amongst other local retailers. We can’t eat and drink online so it’s clear that food holds the recipe for retail success. Our high streets and shopping centres need to do more to promote it.

Ask any restaurant manager or street food vendor if people who try go on to buy. The answer is a resounding YES! Delicious food aromas and creative displays attract attention, acting as bait to draw in consumers who are then hooked with free samples while enjoying a fun and memorable experience. After trying the products, a high portion of consumers will buy, sealing the deal. Brands know this and spend enormous amounts of money promoting experiential tasting tours, so our Experiential event agency Maynineteen has developed an idea that allows retail spaces and places to include their full food and beverage offer in one tasty event package.

A professional presenter serves bite size samples at Summer Food Fest. This experiential activity by live event agency, Maynineteen toured the UK retail property portfolio of client, Hammerson. Children queuing to try free samples at the Summer Food Fest event created by experiential event agency, Maynineteen for their retail client, Hammerson.

The successful food festival includes a good mix of food and beverage retailers in one engaging activity hosted by a professional foodie presenter. Entertaining bite-size snippets of information about the food on offer are delivered to visitors as they are encouraged to try new cuisines. With a new retailer showcased every 30 minutes, brands take the spotlight in the face of growing diversity.