CHICAGO – Independent restaurants are behind the decrease in total restaurant units during fall 2011, according to data from The NPD Group, a market research company.

Total US restaurant units dropped to 580,852 in fall 2011 from 587,335 in fall 2010, according to NPD’s Fall 2011 ReCount restaurant census data. The firm attributed the decline to independent restaurant closings. NPD’s Fall 2011 ReCount shows that the number of independent restaurants declined by 6,863 units during the census period, while chain restaurant unit counts increased by 380 units.

The census also revealed that the number of quick service restaurants declined by 1 percent or 1,801 units. Full service restaurant units, which includes casual dining, mid-scale, and fine dining restaurants, decreased by 4,682 units, a 2 percent decline from the Fall 2010 ReCount.

“Restaurant unit losses were steep during the recession, but we are seeing that total unit losses are softening from past ReCount censuses,” said Greg Starzynski, director, product development-foodservice. “Independent restaurants, however, are still struggling.”