Food Is The New Black: Industry Leaders Say Food Is The New Frontier In Retail

Food Is The New Black: Industry Leaders Say Food Is The New Frontier In Retail

This morning over 100 retail industry leaders attended the fourth Talking Shop Retailer Engagement Series workshop entitled, ‘Food is the New Black’. The event, held by AMP Capital Shopping Centres (AMPCSC) and the Australian Fashion Chamber (AFC), offered attendees valuable insights into how food is like fashion— driven by trends, seasonality and hype.

Lucille McCart
Posted by Lucille McCart

The concept of “food fashion” relates to how consumers are increasingly looking to retailers to provide interesting experiences, in addition to goods for sale.

In the food sector, shoppers want to experience the latest trends in cuisine while also being entertained and having the opportunity to socialise with friends. Retailers that can make their brand “fashionable” by adapting to these trends can increase their appeal to customers, in particular the key millennial demographic.

Hosted by journalist, cook and author of Margaret and Me, Kate Gibbs, the event featured presentations from industry experts including Fabian Rebelo, CEO of Australian Retail; Henry Greenacre, Uber general manager NSW; Francis Loughran, founder and MD of Future Food; Narelle Hutchins, head of place strategy at AMP Capital Shopping Centres and Melissa Leong, food writer and television producer; all of whom collectively agreed that food brands need to adapt to the rapidly changing marketplace to ensure longevity.

Hutchins said, “Shoppers aren’t just visiting our centres for the essential food top-up, but also to connect with friends, and relax and recharge over a casual meal or a few drinks.

“The 2016 AMPCSC Recommended Retail Practice Report, released in July, found that 82 per cent of shoppers would spend as much or more if food experiences were designed to provide opportunities to relax and have time out.

“For AMPCSC, we take a place-led approach in the planning and design of each of the 27 centres across our portfolio. We know that shopping centres are increasingly becoming hubs for community activities, and much thought and effort goes into ensuring our centres provide meaningful and valuable experience to all shoppers.

“Similarly, there’s real opportunity for retailers around food offerings – if the brand provides “insta-licious” or likeable and sharable experiences that are unique to the shopper, we know this can drive increased engagement with the brand and overall sales.”

The Urbis Shopping Centre Benchmarks 2016 found that gross lettable area dedicated to food and beverage outlets has increased by around five per cent in Australia’s regional shopping centres as retail landlords, including AMP Capital, adapt to global trends. Increased numbers of food outlets open up the opportunity for centres to take advantage of Australia’s growing night time economy, which can maximise sales and thereby increase rental optimisation.

The Urbis Benchmarks also found that food and beverage sales in large regional centres grew by over 3.6 per cent this year, while specialty apparel turnover only grew by 1.3 per cent in comparison. Food and beverage sales in neighbourhood centres are up by 9.9 per cent while apparel turnover decreased by 6.9 per cent in comparison.

Francis Loughran added, “Restaurants and food venues have accounted for 45 per cent of all shopping centre expansions in the USA over the last five years, and we are seeing Australian shopping centres adapting to this trend as well.

“We expect demand for food and beverage experiences will continue to grow, and trends such as integrated food halls offering both fresh and prepared food will guarantee the future of bricks and mortar shopping centres.”

AMP Capital Shopping Centres’ head of shopping centre marketing, Belinda Daly, said the successful Talking Shop event series is an amazing opportunity for industry leaders to share their experiences and secrets to success.

“We are focused on continual innovation in the retail space, and on providing our customers with outstanding experiences within our centres. This is why the Talking Shop workshop is a great platform for industry leaders to discuss their experiences with their peers and support them towards their road to success.

“Today, we heard from a number of successful industry experts who discussed how it’s possible for food brands to be ‘fashionable’. We know consumer behaviour is changing, and shoppers are looking at our centres as community destinations that offer far more than just a place to pick up the groceries.

“Now is the time for retailers to take advantage of this opportunity to redefine their position within a crowded marketplace, and ensure the longevity of their brand.”

Key themes that emerged from today’s Talking Shop Retailer Engagement Series ‘Food is the New Black’ event include:

  • Restaurants and food retailers have accounted for 45 per cent of all shopping centre expansions in the USA over the past five years.
  • Food outlets’ gross lettable area grew by around five per cent in Australian regional shopping centres in 2016.
  • Food and beverage sales in large regional centres are up by over 3.6 per cent, and sales in neighbourhood centres are up by 9.9 per cent.
  • 82 per cent of shoppers would spend as much or more if food experiences were designed to provide opportunities to relax and have time out.