Would you make an evening meal of it at Starbucks or Pret? No? Then how about Greggs or Subway?

Stephan Shakespeare
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High street coffee shops are trying to become restaurants (Source: Getty)

Starbucks and Pret a Manger have started trialling late-night opening hours, offering their customers evening menus and even serving wine and beer.

YouGov assessed the attitudes and opinions of more than 60,000 consumers to evaluate whether high street coffee outlets are really an attractive venue for dinner and drinks.

The blunt answer is “not yet”. Almost half (49 per cent) of consumers don’t think that any of the major coffee retailers are well suited to provide evening dining. Although Costa, Pret, Caffe Nero and Starbucks receive clearer support, especially among their existing customers, others – including Greggs and Subway – do not.

But dig a bit deeper and there is a defined audience for coffee outlets to tap into when it comes to extended opening. Around a third of current customers of Costa, Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Pret would consider evening dining at one of their eateries. Combined, this represents a potential audience of more than 10m. However, support for the likes of Paul, Greggs, Subway and Eat is markedly less.

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However, there’s some way to go to turn this hypothetical market into real cash. The highest levels of support for late-night opening come from existing customers. But people who buy lunch at these outlets most days are unlikely to dine out at them of an evening.

Also, the much higher levels of support from existing customers raises the question of whether this concept will help chains grow their base or simply provide an additional service to current customers. Yet there is clearly interest in the broad concept.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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