U.S. Total Restaurant Units Declined By One Percent From Last Year, Reports NPD

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The U.S. restaurant count decreased by about one percent from a year ago to 630,964 units, according to a count of U.S. commercial restaurant locations compiled in the spring and fall each year by The NPD Group, a leading global information company.

'Without the increase in fast casual chain units, we would be seeing greater declines in restaurant counts,' said Greg Starzynski, director - product management, NPD Foodservice.

The U.S. restaurant count decreased by about one percent from a year ago to 630,964 units, according to a count of U.S. commercial restaurant locations compiled in the spring and fall each year by The NPD Group, a leading global information company. The decline in restaurant units traced entirely to independent restaurants, which decreased total units by 2 percent, based on NPD’s Fall 2014 ReCount®,, which includes restaurants open as of September 30, 2014.

The drop in independent restaurants was concentrated in the full service segment, which includes casual dining, midscale/family dining, and fine dining. Full service independent units were down 3 percent while quick service independent units remained stable. The total quick service restaurant segment, which includes independent and chain quick service restaurants, posted a year-over-year increase of one percent. The unit gains in the quick service segment were led by fast casual restaurant chains.

The decline in the total U.S. restaurant count is a reflection of the flat traffic growth experienced by the foodservice industry in 2014. Visits to total restaurants were flat in the year ending December 2014 compared to same period in the prior year, according to NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research, CREST®. Visits to quick service restaurants, which represent 79 percent of total industry traffic, were up 1 percent, while full service restaurant traffic, representing 21 percent of total visits, was down 2 percent last year

“Without the increase in fast casual chain units, we would be seeing greater declines in restaurant counts,” said Greg Starzynski, director - product management, NPD Foodservice. “Until consumers show an increase in their visit frequency, we are not expecting much in the way of broad scale unit expansion.”

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