The latest annual report by management consultants Allegra Strategies, which includes a national survey of 25,000 consumers, revealed the total UK coffee shop market grew by 7.5% in 2012 to reach £5.8 billion in turnover.
The market, which includes branded coffee chains, independent coffee shops and non-specialist operators, grew to 15,723 outlets. The total number of coffee shop outlets grew by 4% over the past year.
The three leading chains in the UK are Costa with 1,552 outlets, Starbucks with 757 and Caffè Nero who currently have 530. Combined, they now command a 54% combined share of the branded coffee chain market.
The study also found that consumers were gravitating to brands they trust, which has added to the pressure on weak mid-sized chains and low quality independent shops who are slowly fading out of the market. Good artisan independents, however, were thriving, according to Allegra.
Jeffrey Young, managing director, Allegra Strategies, said: "The UK coffee shop market continues to astound even the most optimistic of forecasters by growing significantly in value, in outlet numbers and also in the social psyche of the nation. Britain has become a ‘new nation of coffee drinkers’.
"High quality ‘artisan’ independent coffee shops are also fuelling consumer demand and driving the branded coffee shop sector to increase focus on authentic interiors, barista technique and to introduce a wider range of crafted coffees such as flat white and cortado."
Out of the 25,000 consumers Allegra interviewed, 49% said that they are maintaining their coffee shop visits compared with last year. One in five consumers surveyed now visit coffee shops daily, compared with one in nine in 2009.
However, Allegra’s 2012 report does highlight some trading down behaviour as consumers attempt to save money by purchasing less food in coffee shops, and switching from high end independents down to mass appeal branded chains.
Allegra estimates that the UK has the potential to host well over 8,000 branded coffee shops and potentially beyond 10,000.