Foodservice Equipment Reports

Restaurant Market Grew By Nearly 10,000 Units In 2015

The restaurant industry continued to grow net units in 2015, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by NRA Chief Economist Bruce Grindy in his “Economist’s Notebook” June 9 blog on the association’s website

The restaurant industry added a net 9,877 establishments in 2015, an increase of 1.7%.  The 2015 increase was an improvement over the net 8,503 locations, 1.5% growth, added in 2014, and represented the strongest annual gain since 2012. 

The figures are more optimistic than unit-trend figures compiled by the NPD Group for its ReCount restaurant census. For the 12-month period ended September 2015, ReCount tracked a net restaurant unit decline of 0.6% after a 0.4% decline in the similar period from 2013 to 2014.

However, Grindy also noted that the BLS data for 2015 marked the third consecutive year in which the industry expanded by fewer than 10,000 establishments, a threshold that was commonly eclipsed in the mid-2000s. The bottom line is a market with relatively slow or no net-unit growth. 

And overall, the private sector grew business establishments in 2015 at a 2% rate, the strongest annual expansion since 2006, and stronger growth than that posted by the restaurant market. Grindy said it marks the second consecutive year in which restaurant industry unit expansion was outstripped by that in the overall private sector, after posting a stronger growth rate in each of the previous eight years than the general retail market.

Within the restaurant industry, the quick-service segment grew net units by 2.2%, an addition of 4,819 units; it was the largest expansion in net units since 2003.

The full-service segment added a net 2,916 establishments in 2015, which was up slightly from an increase of 2,438 locations in 2014.  However, the dampened 2014 and 2015 gains came on the heels of four consecutive years of full-service expansion above 3,000 units, per the BLS. 

The snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar segment—which includes concepts such as coffee, donut and ice cream shops—added  a net 1,499 locations in 2015, a 2.9% increase over 2014. Although it outpaced the full-service and quick-service expansion rates, the segment’s 2015 increase represented a slowdown from its much stronger growth rates of 3% and 4.2% in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

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