Foodservice Equipment Reports

NPD Reports Both Chains And Independents Added Units In 2012, While Traffic Rose 1%

The net numbers of both chain and independent restaurant units in the U.S. were up 0.7%, an increase of 4.442 restaurants, in the year ended September 2012, according to the latest data from NPD Group’s twice-a-year ReCount Census. The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm also reported that overall restaurant traffic for the year ended November rose 1%, a total of 60 billion visits. Average spending also rose.

For the second year since the onset of the Great Recession in ’08, independents added net units. The counts for independents rose to 339,770 units in ’12 versus 338,308 at the end of September ’11. Chains, meanwhile, saw an increase of nearly 3,000 units, to 276,238 from 273,259. Nearly all the gains were quick-service units, with a 1% increase of more than 4,000 units. The remainder of the gains was full-service restaurants. Historical ReCount data show that despite the severity of the recession, there was never a net decline in total restaurants in the U.S. during the period. Chain unit additions overcame independent declines in both ’09 and ’10.

“The changes in spending, consumer visits and unit growth while slight are, at least on the positive side,” said Greg Starzynski, director-product management at NPD. “I expected a cautious approach to unit expansion as consumer visits improved, and I have no reason to suspect this will change in the foreseeable future.”

Information on ReCount and other NPD research products can be found at

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