Foodservice Equipment Reports

Operators Added Total Units In Past Year, NPD Reports

Foodservice operators opened 2,872 net new units in the year ending March 31, as even independent operators saw a net increase in locations. The data from The NPD Group, apparently signals the end of the Great Foodservice Recession when it comes to unit growth. The new ReCount report, which counts commercial restaurant locations open in the U.S. in the spring and fall each year, tallied 592,960 total restaurant units in the country.

The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm also said restaurant visits for the year ending in May rose 1% while consumer spending increased 2%.

“With improvement in restaurant visits and spending, restaurant operators, especially in the quick service segment, are more willing to invest in new locations,” said Greg Starzynski, director, product management, NPD Foodservice.

Independent operators added 984 new net units during the spring period, NPD said, the first increase in independent units since ’09. Independents shed 942 units in ’10 and another 1,331 locations in ’11, according to revised NPD numbers. There are, as of March 31, 320,193 total independent units in the country. Chain operators added 1,888 net units during the period, for a total of 272,367. Chain operators continued to add net new units throughout the recession, NPD data shows.

NPD said most of the new units were quick service in format; 2,275 new quick service restaurants were added, with the remaining 597 new locations full service operations. There are now 315,401 total QSRs and 277,159 FSRs.

Remarkably, the revised ReCount data shows that the total number of restaurants in America never declined during the downturn, the most severe foodservice recession in more than 65 years. Still, in the spring ’11 ReCount census, only 19 net new units were counted.

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