The rate of branded coffee shop openings in the UK slumped to 0.9% in the last 12 months, compared to 3.4% growth across Europe, according to extensive new research.

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The slow UK net outlet growth, which dropped from 8.7% in 2018, was due to sustained Brexit uncertainty, dampened consumer confidence, and a highly challenging retail environment, according to report author Allegra.

The Allegra World Coffee Portal research found that 26 out of Europe’s 30 largest coffee shop markets (with 100 ore more branded coffee shop outlets) added net new stores over the past 12 months, with five enjoying growth of 5% of more.

Industry leaders identified speciality coffee as the primary consumer trend currently influencing the industry, while cold brew remains the fastest growing beverage but still represents a relatively small proportion of overall sales.

Ethical consumerism was identified as the second most important consumer trend affecting the coffee shop segment. Over 70% agreed that ethical coffee has become much more important to consumers over the last 12 months, according to the report.

High rents and property costs were cited as the primary challenges facing coffee shops.

Starbucks, McCafé, and Costa Coffee were responsible for nearly a third of net new outlets across Europe over the last 12 months, collectively comprising 23% of the European branded coffee shop segment.

Commenting on the research findings, Allegra ceo and founder, Jeffrey Young, said: “Despite a challenging economic climate and deep consumer uncertainty branded coffee shops remain in growth across most European markets.

“Chain concepts are an increasingly popular option for previously traditionally minded consumers. Lifestyle and consistency factors further underpin this trend.”