US restaurant count declines

by Erica Shaffer
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NPD ReCount report, dining out trends
Chain restaurants registered growth while independent restaurant count lagged.

CHICAGO – Independent restaurants decreased 2 percent during the fall of 2014, leading to an overall decline of 1 percent in the US restaurant count, The NPD Group reported. NPD is a leading global information company.

NPD said the overall declined in restaurant units was attributed entirely to independent restaurants, according to the company's Fall 2014 ReCount, which includes restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2014. NPD said the declined in independent restaurants was concentrated on the full service segment which includes casual dining, midscale/family dining, and fine dining.

But chain restaurants registered a 1 percent increase during the period, according to NPD. Additionally, the total quick service restaurant segment posted a 1 percent year-over-year increase. Fast casual restaurant chains led unit gains in the segment, NPD noted. Chain restaurants include independent and chain quick service restaurants.

“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.”

Growth in customer traffic has been flat in 2014, NPD said. Visits to restaurants were flat for the year compared to the same period in 2013, according to NPD's CREST foodservice market research. Visits to quick service restaurants, which represent 79 percent of total industry traffic, climbed 1 percent, while full service restaurant traffic, representing 21 percent of total visits, slipped 2 percent in 2014.

Markets with a growing restaurant presence included Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.; Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Fla.; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro; Boise City-Nampa, Idaho metro and Madison, Wis. metro.

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