This is an area that has become increasingly important in shopping centers, “taken seriously only about 3 years ago”, which is beginning to have a decisive role, especially in the case of renewal or in more mature shopping centers, and should even be considered as an anchor in the future. This is one of the main trends highlighted in the latest ULI Retail Report Presentation - Trading Up, presented in Lisbon at Sonae Sierra by Chris Igwe, Co-Chair of the ULI Retail and Entertainment Product Council.

According to this expert, catering is "a business that will never end", having as decisive factors of success "the quality and level of service", with special emphasis on reception. “The renewal of mature shopping centers must comprise renewed F&B offer”.

«Food halls» are one of the new trends, which also spread to airports or train stations, for example, infrastructures that “start to pay attention to F&B and apply meaningful changes”. The concept comes through markets, kitchen areas, "food blocks", etc, where decoration and environment are very important.

Colombo, for instance, will soon have a new catering floor with a distinct concept of the existing area, a “Cooking Block”, as explained by João Pedro Santos, Manager and Conceptual Design & Architecture of Sonae Sierra. The purpose is that the experience could be completely different.

This is because the commercial spaces have, usually, two types of consumers: the fast food ones, and those looking for leisure. The length of stay and the offer they seek is significantly different, and the key is to choose the ideal mix, according to Chris Igwe.

Also department stores or hypermarkets start to implement catering concepts, and even some stores begin to have kiosks inside. In the outlet centers are other great growth opportunities in this sector, which is not traditionally strong in this kind of offer.


Leisure and services complement the new mandatory offer

New areas of leisure start to be implemented in shopping centers. Bowling or skating rinks are just a few examples, which have no guaranteed recipe for success for any space, something that "is not easy", according to this expert, but which can be decisive in some cases. It’s a trial and error path.

The centers surveyed by ULI stated they expect a 28% increase in incomes with the incorporation of elements outside the retail area into their assets, as well as a 7% increase in footfall. 58% answered that F&B increases the performance of shopping centers.

Clinics or coworking areas are some of the examples that "may contribute to reduce the availability" of the centers. While there’s yet not enough information to give more accurate predictions, one thing seems to be right for Igwe: "the industry will not go back, and it will change much faster. To adapt is to survive."

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