Coleraine is fast becoming the coffee captial of Northern Ireland.
The Times understands that two new coffee shops are set to open in the town centre in the coming months. And another applicant is currently going through the planning stage for a similar business in the town centre.
We counted 26 coffee shops/cafes in Coleraine from Railway Road to Waterside - is this over saturation?
In a bid to spark debate, we asked our facebook users what they thought about the prospect of three additional coffee shops percolating in to the town centre.
Many felt that job creation was a positive factor, whilst others had the view that ‘proper’ shops were needed to give ‘weary’ Coleraine a much needed boost ahead of the busy Christmas season.
Univeristy of Ulster’s Retail Analysit Donald McFetridge has defended the rise in coffee shops in town centres, describing them as ‘big business’,
The retain expert describes coffee as the ‘lowest affordable common social demoninator’
In a special interview with The Times, he explained: “Coleraine certainly has more than its fair share of coffee shops but most towns across the province have also experienced the phenomenal growth in the number of chains keen to set up shop - it’s big business.
“In larger cities like London it’s even more pronounced; there are virtually “retail ribbons” or “retail parades” of coffee shops in certain parts of the city - particularly in the business districts where “coffee to go” is a trend which has been around for years now.
“In spite of living in difficult economic times, coffee is considered a “comfort spend”; consumers can’t afford to buy a new suite of furniture, move house or change their car but a cup of coffee is still seen as something they can spend on and sit alongside their counterparts who can afford all these things.
“Coffee does not discriminate; it has come to be regarded as the lowest affordable common social demoninator in our currency at present.”