U.S. Independent Restaurants Account for 87 Percent of Industry Traffic Losses Since 2008

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U.S. restaurant industry visits declined from 62.7 million in 2008 to 60.6 million in 2011 and independent restaurants accounted for 87 percent (2 million) of these traffic losses, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. Independent restaurants, 7,000 of which have closed since 2009, have steadily lost traffic share to the major restaurant chains, whose unit growth has only offset half of independent unit losses, according to NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research.

Independent Restaurants Contributed to 87% of the Industry's Traffic Losses Since 2008

“Independent restaurant operators have neither the money nor resources that the chains have,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst.

U.S. restaurant industry visits declined from 62.7 million in 2008 to 60.6 million in 2011 and independent restaurants accounted for 87 percent (2 million) of these traffic losses , according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. Independent restaurants, 7,000 of which have closed since 2009, have steadily lost traffic share to the major restaurant chains, whose unit growth has only offset half of independent unit losses, according to NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research.

Independent restaurants represented 28 percent of industry traffic in the year ending November 2008, and now represent 27 percent of the industry’s visits. Restaurant chains have held a steady share of industry visits since 2009, and gained the independent restaurants’ one percent share loss, increasing share from 60 percent in 2008 to 61 percent in 2011, according to NPD’s CREST® service, which continually tracks consumer use of foodservice.

Based on NPD’s ReCount®, a bi-annual count of U.S. restaurants, since 2009, major chains have grown by 3,734 units, small chains increased by 777 units, and the number of independent restaurants decreased by 7,158 units. The recently released Fall 2011 ReCount reports that independent units were down by two percent from the Fall 2010 ReCount census, and chain restaurant unit growth was flat.

Total restaurant industry traffic for the year ending November 2011 was flat compared to a year ago, according to NPD’s CREST. Visits to major and small chain restaurants were up +1 percent while visits to independent restaurants were down -4 percent for year ending November 2011.    

“Independent restaurant operators have neither the money nor resources that the chains have,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “They lacked the marketing power to drive traffic and the monetary buffer to get through the difficult times during the past several years.”

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 2,000 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, home and office, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit http://www.npd.com/, or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/npdgroup.

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Kim McLynn
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