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Growing importance of the F&B sector in Poland

Spending on eating out in Poland has risen by more than 20% over the last five years. Based on data from Oxford Economics, food and beverage (F&B) expenditure is forecast to continue to rise in the next decade due to a number of factors, including strong economic fundamentals, rising affluence, changing preferences and consumer needs.
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This significant consumer spending growth is reflected in the retail sector’s turnover levels. Although the turnover growth per square metre in the food court segment, including restaurants and cafés, hit approximately 15% in the last five years, this is not a universal trend for all retail schemes. This trend is the strongest in Poland’s best-in-class shopping centres in the largest cities where consumers have a strong purchasing power, which translates into high F&B spending. In addition, in response to growing consumer expectations, shopping centre owners wanting to maintain a leading market position are becoming increasingly focused on the quality and range of their food and beverage offer. Smaller regional markets are also seeing a growing focus on expansion and improvement of the F&B offer, setting new standards for retail schemes. For many shopping centre owners improving the F&B tenant-mix is critical to profile diversification and standing out against the competition.

F&B operators are expected to occupy approximately 7,000–8,000 sq m in the largest shopping centres currently under construction, including Galeria Północna in Warsaw, Forum Gdańsk, Serenada in Krakow and Galeria Libero in Katowice, each offering between 30 and 40 various dining units. Traditional food courts and cafés continue to be dominated by chain operators while unique concepts are emerging in the segment of restaurants providing more diversity. An innovative concept, an outstanding design, a unique atmosphere, an outdoor seating area and a kids’ play area, cookery demos and classes conducted by celebrity chefs are all important in ensuring new eating experiences and attracting more consumer attention and spending.

The traditional food court is doing well, but is transforming to adapt to the new consumer type. Its former concept of a few tables, chairs and plastic plants has lost its appeal. Modern food courts now feature specially designated zones with comfortable sofas, WiFi and multimedia to encourage consumers, particularly the younger generation, to increase their dwell time. Many owners of older retail schemes are both busily reshaping their food courts and increasing the number of F&B outlets, by inviting new operators whose presence is likely to retain or attract new visitors.

The F&B sector is also rapidly expanding outside modern shopping centres: in high streets and transport hubs. Examples of new trends include regular and seasonal F&B outlets, food trucks and the rapid growth of F&B delivery services in response to the needs of various target groups. An all-night or breakfast market in Warsaw is not only an opportunity to buy organic food, but a new concept of a meeting with friends to enjoy good food.

Financial outlays incurred by retail scheme owners to ensure a high-quality and unique F&B offer are another important aspect to be considered. In addition to costs of redevelopment or addition of new F&B outlets to shopping centres, lease incentives such as fit-out allowances or step-up rents may often account for a considerable part of a budget, threatening the financial feasibility of a project. The increasing expansion of F&B options in shopping centres is likely to increase footfall, but decisions to make such investments must be preceded by careful consideration.