Coffee shops are missing out on impulse food sales, according to a new survey analysing the food-to-go buying habits of over 700 consumers by research company Harris International Marketing (him!).

The research, which covered people’s experiences in outlets such as Starbucks, Costa, Caffè Nero and independents, found that only 3% of coffee shop customers buy a food or drink item on impulse lower than any other retail channel looked at in the study, including fast food chains, convenience stores, small supermarkets and pharmacies. "There is a £2.8m a month opportunity if coffee shops could encourage just one-in-10 customers to pick up something on impulse," said him!. "Currently one-in-two customers buy just one item in coffee shops; the majority just buy a hot drink. Many coffee shop staff are trained to ask ’Would you like any food/pastries etc?’, but it doesn’t seem this is driving a significant proportion of impulse."

According to the research, very few customers have a budget they are worried about sticking to in coffee shops, suggesting they would be open to influence. But only 36% of people said they went to coffee chains to buy a drink and food.

"Are customers aware of the food available?" asked the report. "Is it visible, does the display look tempting or are cabinets empty due to a lack of availability throughout the day?"