Food and beverages remain major attraction in shopping centres
Several years ago, it was considered that the food, beverage and restaurant sector required considerable expansion, up to 30% of the total shopping centre area. However, today, real estate developers moved to a more moderate position. Jūratė Gaspariūnienė, head of Newsec commercial property management group, says that this sector should not occupy more than 15% of the shopping centre area. She recently came back from MAPIC 2017 trade show in Cannes which attracts real estate professionals from across the globe.
As part of the event, a number of discussions were held on the locations where food and beverage stores and restaurants should be concentrated in shopping centres. It is generally agreed that the shopping centre’s life revolves around this sector; it is a huge centre of attraction and it should therefore be located in the very heart of the shopping centre, a conspicuous place, which buzzes with life and draws most visitors.
“In earlier times, the shopping centre development theory was just the opposite – major attractions had to be situated in the remotest locations to draw visitors further inside. Consequently, the shopping centres built a decade ago have these areas located on top floors, far from major walkways and squares,” explains Mrs Gaspariūnienė.
According to her, the transfer of restaurants to the best locations in the shopping centre is not a sustainable solution, as it is contradictory to the logic of development and consumption habits. The range of restaurants is very broad and dynamic, yet it is difficult to imagine lunch in the middle of the walkway, as shoppers seek for cosiness, a convenient space to have a conversation or a family dinner.
New-concept restaurants, food and beverage places are popular and yield high added value to shopping centres. Vegetarian, vegan, healthy food restaurants are today’s trend. It was also highlighted at MAPIC that customers are getting more and more particular, they seek new impressions, a new experience, quality, and a full service. She explains that even fast food restaurants face these challenges and try to adjust.
MAPIC 2017 also hosted discussions on the transfer of top class restaurants to shopping centres. There was a discussion which started with a question: “How many times have you had a romantic dinner or a business lunch in a shopping centre?” Mrs Gaspariūnienė says that there was not a single hand raised in the whole international audience of several hundred people.
Participants in the discussion said that perhaps top class restaurants could add more variety to the restaurant areas in shopping centres by enhancing their added value. The absence of such restaurants in shopping centres is a niche for further development.
Obviously, restaurants also function in a cyclical pattern: there was once the pizzeria boom, then the national cuisine boom. The situation is now changing and new solutions are on the way. Mrs Gaspariūnienė explains that a tendency is already observed in Lithuania and Europe that new concepts are not always viable, and their life cycles are often short.
There is hardly any difference between Lithuania and the overall international European context. It is determined by a mobile, active and inquisitive generation of consumers, who travel a lot and get the latest information through social networks here and now. The dominant tendencies are similar: new, untraditional concepts, restaurants of healthy, vegetarian, vegan food, specialised cuisines of various nations. New experiences, emotions, and a good service are important.
Jūratė Gaspariūnienė explains that restaurant areas in the shopping centres located in the heart of Vilnius, in the neighbourhood of office buildings or in dormitory suburbs slightly differ. Some places have function and speed as their priority, yet others focus on content and diversity.