Foodservice Equipment Reports

NPD’s Unit Census Details Independent Restaurant Losses

Independent restaurants continued to shed units last year—a net decline of 6,863 units—even as the Great Foodservice Recession began to moderate. The tally is part of the latest data from The NPD Group’s biannual ReCount census of restaurants in the United States. Chains, meanwhile, managed a slight increase of 380 net units in the same period, the year ending Sept. 30, 2011. Total restaurant units fell from 587,335 Fall ’10 to 580,852 at the end of September last year.

As we reported in the last issue of FER Fortnightly, independents have also suffered 87% of the nearly two billion restaurant visits lost by the industry in the period from ’08 to ‘11, according to the Port Washington, N.Y.-based consumer research firm. Total restaurant visits still exceed 60 billion annually.

As the accompanying chart shows, there was a lag effect as the recession wore on. Total net losses peaked last year and even chains saw the smallest net increase in units since the foodservice recession hit in late ’07. And full service, still dominated by independents, continued to be affected more by the downturn. NPD says full-service lost 2% of its net units for the year ended September last year, while quick service lost 1%.

NPD does report that unit declines are moderating. “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, for NPD.

More information on research from The NPD Group research can be found at The ReCount census data is available in a wide variety of detail, down to the zip-code level.

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