The total U.S. restaurant count stood at 624,301 units in spring 2016, a 1 percent decrease from spring 2015, based on a restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Total restaurant chain units were flat from last spring at 292,382 and the independent restaurant count declined by 3 percent, according to NPD Group’s spring 2016 ReCount restaurant census, which includes restaurants open as of March 31.
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 declined by 2 percent.
The overall decline in restaurant counts is a reflection of the stalled traffic growth experienced by the foodservice industry over the past several years. Total U.S. foodservice traffic was flat in the year ending June 2016 compared to year ago. Visits to independent restaurants, a restaurant system type that is particularly challenged in a soft environment, were down 3 percent. Major chains posted a 1 percent gain in traffic while small chain visits were flat, according to NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research, CREST. Quick service restaurant visits, which represent 80 percent of total industry traffic, were up 1 percent, family dining and casual dining restaurant traffic declined by 4 and 3 percent, respectively.
“The decline in U.S. restaurant units overall is a reflection of the industry’s stalled traffic growth,” says Greg Starzynski, director, product management, NPD Foodservice. “Our forecast finds that U.S. foodservice visit growth will be less than 1 percent in the coming years, which means there will not be significant unit expansion for a while.”
Spring 2015: 632,572
Spring 2016: 624,301 (-1 percent)
Spring 2015: 291,794
Spring 2016: 292,832 (flat)
Spring 2015: 340,778
Spring 2016: 331,469 (-3 percent)