Retailers turn to food to pique consumers’ interest

Shopping is no longer enough of a drawcard for consumers to come and spend at brick-and-mortar stores. Many fashion retailers are looking to new in-store concepts and food to pique the interest of under-pressure customers.

Department stores such as Stuttafords and Garlicks first began the trend decades ago. But cafes soon fell out of favour.

Woolworths brought food back into popularity with the introduction of its coffee shops inside its stores. Edgars and TFG (The Foschini Group) are just two examples of retailers that are offering a similar service and experience to that of Woolies.

TFG said with the multitude of international players appearing in the country and the ease of global brands, it felt it was time to think differently in order to win customers.

“Customers are yearning for a point of difference when it comes to their shopping experience,” said TFG head of marketing and eCommerce, Kathryn Sakalis.

“We have begun to answer these needs. We have introduced a juice bar and a Vida e Caffé coffee shop in one of our biggest @home Livingspace stores in Sandton City and a funky barber shop in two of our Markham stores. Both concepts bring a little something extra … a little surprise and delight if you like,” she said.

The juice bar concept and coffee shop for @home Livingspace was included as part of the store’s revamp earlier in 2017 and had been instrumental in attracting customers.

“Set up to look like a minikitchen, the juice bar draws the crowds particularly over the weekends and sees customer dwell time in store increase as well as additional rands in the till. The Vida allows customers to sit and relax with a coffee before or after their shopping,” said Sakalis.

Edcon’s Edgars brand has collaborated with Famous Brands to test the waters in quick dining with the launch of a café concept inside the Edgars store in Eastgate mall in Johannesburg called MADE [pictured above].

The café has been in operation for three weeks and was inspired by the desire to enhance the customer shopping experience and offer them a space to pause and connect while buying the latest fashion, beauty and hot items — all while enjoying a delicious meal and great ambience, said Edcon.

“The MADE Café is the ultimate destination shopping experience, infusing fashion and food, a spokesman for the company said.

“Edcon is assessing its performance on an ongoing basis and will only make a decision as to its viability as well as further roll-outs after this pilot phase.”

Woolworths, meanwhile, has taken in-store food to its Australian operation David Jones. David Jones opened its new 2,400m² immersive food hall at Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney earlier in August.

The food hall features oyster, salad, sushi and juice bars as well as a florist, deli, bakery, butcher and fishmonger.

TFG said that its initiatives were still in their infancy, but both brands hoped to be able to roll out the concepts in other stores around the country in the near future.