Total U.S. Restaurant Count Drops by One Percent Due To Independent Restaurant Unit Declines, Reports NPD

Las Vegas and Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Florida Post Highest Unit Gains

Chicago, March 2, 2015 ─ 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. Chain restaurant counts increased by 1 percent in the period.

Segment System Type Fall 2013 Fall 2014 PCYA*
TOTAL RESTAURANTS ALL 635,033 630,964 -1%
  CHAINS 283,600 287,312 +1%
  INDEPENDENTS 351,433 343,652 -2%

*Percent change from a year ago
Source: The NPD Group/ReCount® Fall 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 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.”

While total restaurant units were down in the U.S. from a year ago, there were markets with a growing restaurant presence. The top five areas among the largest core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) posting unit gains were as follows:

TOP Five CBSA’s* in Percent Increase in Restaurant Units

CBSA Population Fall 2013 Units Fall 2014 Units PCYA
LAS VEGAS-PARADISE, NV METRO 2,031,113 4,306 4,469 4%
CAPE CORAL-FORT MYERS, FL METRO 648,331 1,325 1,372 4%
BOISE CITY-NAMPA, ID METRO 635,429 1,143 1,176 3%
MADISON, WI METRO 615,292 1,216 1,247 3%

* Among 102 CBSA’s with a population over 500,000 Source: The NPD Group/Fall 2014 ReCount®

Editor’s note: ReCount® restaurant counts are available by classification, e.g., Hamburger, Pizza, Casual Dining Bar & Grill, etc. as well as geographical breakdowns, e.g., zip code, city, state, designated market area, census areas, etc.

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