UK consumers are still coffee crazy, according to the latest figures from The NPD Group.
Consumers may be strapped for cash, but as coffee shop sales have increased by 5% since 2009, a latte a day is an affordable essential rather than an unnecessary luxury, researchers found. There were 1.4bn servings of speciality coffee in the UK last year – still a long way short of Italy’s 5.3bn.
While eating in has become one of the dominant trends of the recession, the increasing popularity of stopping off for a coffee at breakfast time bucks this trend. Breakfast visits increased by 9% on average every year between 2009 and 2012. Breakfast now accounts for just under 20% of total out-of-home eating visits with Brits making an extra 25.6m visits each year compared to 2009.
And it’s not just take-away coffees driving the growth; on-premises consumption is growing in popularity with visits up 3.5% between 2011 and 2012. In short, coffee shops have become a ‘destination’ in themselves. Time-pressed and quality-obsessed consumers increasingly see visits to coffee shops as a perfectly acceptable way to spend time with friends and family.
NPD’s research reveals women and young people are increasingly addicted to coffee – visits among women rose 4.3% in 2012 compared to the previous year and visitors aged 18 to 24 grew by 12% in the same period.
Guy Fielding, Director of Business Development for The NPD Group, said: “The surge in breakfast is great news for the likes of Caffè Nero, where this occasion accounts for just over a quarter of their total visits. This is particularly important as snacking is slowing, and this is impacting some of the quick service coffee operators. So the enduring popularity of coffee is compensating for the snack slowdown. But in spite of the coffee uplift at breakfast, all the branded coffee players are still feeling the impact of the slower snacking market, most notably Costa Coffee, where snacking constitutes 57% of all visits – the highest among the ‘big three’.”
NPD Group’s research shows out of home consumption of coffee is declining elsewhere in Europe, with the biggest decline in Italy.
However, it is not just the key coffee chains that are capitalising on the popularity of coffee; sandwich shops and bakeries are now doing the same. The importance of speciality coffee within the quick service sandwich channel has increased from 10.5% to 13%, and within quick service bakery from 6.7% to 11.3% (i. over 10% of occasions include a speciality coffee). Outlets that have not traditionally focused on coffee are now aware that a good quality coffee proposition will attract new customers, and prompt them to spend more per head. Tesco recently announced its investment in high street ‘artisan’ coffee chain Harris+ Hoole, which will be managed by the team behind Taylor Street, a small chain of coffee shops in London.
Fielding said: “There is no doubt British consumers have embraced a coffee culture and have become far more sophisticated and educated in their tastes. While the core coffee chains were the first to capitalise on this trend, the high street sandwich shops and bakeries, not to mention pubs and even petrol forecourts, are all getting in on the action.”