Are There Too Many Coffee Shops?

Are There Too Many Coffee Shops?

New research from Citigroup suggests that we are approaching saturation point with the number of coffee shops we have on the high street. In fact the research suggests that this point will be reached in four to five years.

The Stats

Ten years ago there were less than 10,000 places to get a coffee in the UK. Of these less than a third were big multi national chains like Starbucks and Costa. By the end of 2016 though we had 22,000 coffee shops and we appear to drink 2.3 billion cups of coffee per year.

Data from Allegra World Coffee Portal highlights how espresso drinking has risen in this country. In the year 2000 there were 3 million cups of espresso sold each week. This has risen steadily, so that by 2016 there are 19 million cups of espresso sold per week.

Coffee Shops In the UK

The number of chain coffee shops in the UK are as follows, Costa now takes the lead with 1,972 shops, Starbucks, 807, Cafe Nero 548, Wild Bean Café 292, Coffee# 178, Pumpkin 45, Coffee Republic 32. These numbers are behind the view from some analysts that in the UK we are nearing saturation point, there simply will not be the space for anymore coffee shops in the UK.

The Challenge

The challenge for those shops already in existence is to ensure that people keep coming back. That means that quality needs to be maintained, if not there are plenty of other shops that will serve better coffee. Secondly, more cafes are now also serving food alongside the coffee. And finally there are other ways to differentiate yourself as a great coffee shop whether that be the atmosphere, music or attracting a certain group, like families with babies and children.

Impact of Urbanisation

Others however disagree with this assertion that it’s all gloom and doom. Their main argument is that cities will get bigger with more and more people the world over moving into cities. Their view is that this population growth will support more coffee shops.

In addition they point to the coffee shop becoming more than a traditional coffee ship. This supports the argument that the coffee shop is taking over from the village pub. It is a meeting place, a focal point of the community so for example it is predicated there will be 32,000 coffee shops in the UK by 2025 and by 2030 they will outnumber pubs.

The Rise of the Independent Coffee Shop

Another interesting development is the rise of the artisan coffee shop, independent from the main brands mentioned above. These are becoming even more popular particularly amongst those who recognise quality coffee, served by baristas who have really honed their skills. That isn’t to say there isn’t a role for the large chains, if you are in a hurry and want to grab a takeaway on the go. But the artisan shop offers in some cases fresh coffee beans to buy, roasting onsite and the time to brew a really spectacular coffee. They are also offering new and innovative coffees. The rise of these shops will undoubtedly challenge the chains to also up their game. In fact in New York now the number of artisan independent coffee shops now outnumbers the chains.



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