£30 million a year spent in Scots coffee shops

Picture: Michael Gillen
Picture: Michael Gillen
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SCOTS spend almost £30 million a year in coffee shops – or £80,000 a day – with some caffeine fans admitting to forking out hundreds of pounds for their morning latte or cappuccino every year.

Over a third of Scots – and a total of 17 million UK adults – visit a coffee shop at least once a week, according to a report from budgeting account provider thinkmoney.

The poll of more than 2,000 adults – including 635 in Scotland – found that 1.6 million people make 15 or more trips to a coffee shop every month.

Almost one in ten surveyed says they make between five and ten monthly coffee shop visits, making their minimum spend around £220 per year.

Keen coffee drinkers, who visit more than 15 times each month, spend around £515 per year – enough to buy a top of the range home espresso machine and a year’s supply of coffee.

While two-thirds of people spend up to £5 each time, 1.5 million respondents admit they spend more than £10 on hot drinks and cakes each time they do a coffee run.

Britain’s coffee culture has rocketed in recent years. Costa was taken over by Whitbread in the mid 1990s and expanded from a family firm to become Britain’s biggest cafe chain, while US giant Starbucks opened its first branch in London less than 20 years ago in 1998 and now has 830 stores UK-wide.

Ian Williams, spokesman for thinkmoney, said: “Coffee shop culture has become a staple of British life, with both the big chains and independent coffee shops now a feature of every high street, railway station and even bookshops.

“It’s easy to let small costs like takeaway coffees slip under the radar, so seeing how much we spend as a nation is quite eye-opening. Of course, a latte or a piece of flapjack won’t break the bank, but we just need to be careful not to let them burn too much of a hole in our pockets. I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out what their annual spend really adds up to.”

Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at Stirling University, said coffee shops had become a regular part of people’s daily routine. “They are omnipresent – you do not have to go far to find a coffee shop,” he said.

“The way ‘coffee culture’ has changed in the past few years is astonishing. There are two dimensions to it – one is the quality of what is on offer and the other is the range. It is a lot different to what you would have found in the typical British cafe certainly 50 years ago, but also much more recently than that.”

He added: “The coffee shop has become the ‘third place’ in UK culture – it is not home and not work. It is somewhere people can go and converse with each other, but they also increasingly see it as somewhere which will have wifi where they can work.”

The study comes just weeks after a report from market research firm Mintel found volume sales of tea have declined by a fifth over the past five years.

Sales of ordinary teabags fell by 13 per cent from £491 million in 2012 to £425 million in 2014.