Foodservice Equipment Reports

NPD: Restaurant Counts, Traffic Down 1% In 2010

The foodservice recession continues to impact operators—especially independents who lack the resources to compete with chains. A new report from the NPD Group said the number of U.S. restaurants fell 5,551 in net terms, or less than 1%, for the year ending Sept. 30, 2010. The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm also reported that restaurant traffic fell 1% for the year ending November ’10.

NPD’s ReCount census reported the total number of restaurants in the country stood at 579,102 as of the end of last September. Most of the declines in net units appeared to occur in the first half of the year. The total was down only 314 restaurants from the total number NPD reported last spring.

The number of chain restaurants fell only slightly during the past year, from 267,499 to 267,408. But independents lost 2% of their net units, with the number falling from 317,154 to 311,694. Both quick-service and full-service restaurants saw 1% declines in net units.

In announcing that total restaurant traffic fell 1% for the year ending November ’10, NPD noted that customer visits have been trending higher. The group earlier said traffic fell only 0.7% in the third quarter ’10 and forecast 1% traffic gains for the fourth quarter and the first quarter ’11. Traffic fell 3% during ’09 and has been negative since the third quarter ’08.

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