Foodservice Equipment Reports

Independent Restaurants Battered By Recession, NPD Reports

Independent restaurants have dramatically lost share of traffic and units during the Great Foodservice Recession, according to the latest data from The NPD Group, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based consumer research from.

Total restaurant visits fell from 62.7 billion in 2008 to 60.6 billion last year and nearly all that loss, 87%, was at independent restaurants, according to data from NPD’s CREST studies. For the year that ended November ’11, chains saw visits grow 1% while traffic at independents fell 4%. For the restaurant market as a whole, visits were flat. Major chains now control 61% of all traffic while independents have lost a point to 27%. Small chains account for the remainder of visits, 12%.

A similar pattern can be seen in units. According to NPD’s ReCount census of U.S. restaurants, chains have increased units by 4,511 while independent units decreased 7,158 since ’08. The biannual ReCount ending November reports that independent restaurants lost 2% of their units last year while chain units were flat.

“Independent restaurant operators have neither the money nor resources that the chains have,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “They lacked the marketing power to drive traffic and the monetary buffer to get through the difficult times during the past several years.”

More information on research from The NPD Group research can be found at

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