According to a recent report by Deloitte, the growth of e-commerce means that physical retail spaces will have to play a different role in the future to stay relevant to consumers. It’s clear we’re in the middle of a mixed-use retail revolution.

And what could be more experiential than the act of breaking bread over dinner?

sharing dinner

It has recently been discovered that there will be a net addition of nearly 3,000 new F&B units planned for the next two years in the UK, and the eating out market is predicted to grow by 17 percent over the next four years.

The importance of food in mixed retail spaces is growing. Globally, it’s clear that this trend is set to strengthen as the digital world continues to disrupt the consumer landscape. Food is one of the main enablers for people meeting up to socialise, and what food hall experiences look like is evolving, too.


Challenges in the retail landscape  

Under pressure from rising costs and the need to invest in digital transformation, retailers are experiencing a more competitive landscape than ever before.

In addition, rising saturation throughout the market from entrants with newer, more flexible operating models means that established operators are struggling under cost pressures, such as increased property prices.

Finally, consumers are turning more frequently to online retail because of busy lifestyles and the ability to compare purchases across several retailers—a factor becoming more and more important to the current generation of cash-conscious consumers.


The new role of retail destinations

Increasingly, consumers are looking for experiences that combine classic retail with food and beverage. “Experience” is the word on everyone’s lips. This means that while a decade ago five percent of new retail destinations contained some sort of F&B concept, a decade later, in some cases, that figure has risen to around 40 percent.

Jarrold's food hall

Jarrold, CADA Design

For consumers, there are a range of benefits that come from a retail space with a heavily incorporated F&B concept.

Perhaps one of the most important ones is that they have an emotional and social impact. Retail destinations become not just a space for shopping, but rather, spaces where personal and professional relationships are built.

For retail destinations, this is also good news, as accommodating more F&B units means increased customer satisfaction, longer dwell times, and ultimately, extended shopping hours.


Growth of the food hall

The food hall concept is growing, thanks especially to the combination of “shop-eat-learn”. This concept means that customers are able to shop, enjoy dinner, and then perhaps learn where their food comes from and where it’s made. Perhaps there’s a cookery tutorial or other learning experience.

A good example of this is the newly announced Eataly site, which is reported to be opening on the ground floor of 135 Bishopsgate. The food hall is said to occupy a 40,000sq ft. space next to Liverpool Street Station.

The Eataly concept combines restaurants, bars, food and beverage counters, the sale of cooking-related products and even educational cookery schools. Described as a “foodie theme park”, the destination fulfils landlord British Land’s commitment to “bring in a higher level of retail” to what has traditionally been an area dominated by offices.

A second example is Time Out Market, a spin-off from Time Out magazine, which branched out into food halls after opening its first in Lisbon, Portugal in 2014 (and is now opening a new location in Miami). With an annual audience of three million people a year, making it Lisbon’s largest single tourist attraction, the market has 24 restaurants, eight bars, 12 shops selling regional specialities, a music venue and more. This makes it a one-stop shop for anyone looking to spend a day in Lisbon.

Timeout Market Lisbon

At CADA, we have 25 years of experience designing food halls. Recent prominent examples are the famously independent department store, Jarrold, in Norwich and Japan Centre, London.

The new experience we designed at Jarrold includes a newly combined deli & wine bar at the centre of the space, increasing the average user dwell time. With design elements including new materials like copper combined with sharp lines and muted green colours that highlight the product, the product is made the centrepiece. Downstairs at Jarrold is a great example of the modern food hall delighting both customer and increasing value for the retailer.

A second relevant project is the development of the new flagship store for the Japan Centre. Combining concept creation, branding and interior design, customers can experience a wide range of Japanese cuisine within the 100-cover dining hall.

The hall includes three specialist departments that offer unique, specialist customer experiences, with dedicated Tea, Sake and Miso areas. Composed of their own identity using timber tones against the food hall’s neutral colours, these areas have their own identity that offer experiences to delight customers.

the Japan Centre tea

Japan Centre, CADA Design

From their transformation from spaces that push product as their primary function, to those that push experiences, mixed-use retail is having its revolution. Mixed use retail—and food halls in particular—are part of our DNA. To get our advice about your next retail project, get in touch.

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