Foodservice Equipment Reports

Restaurant Counts. Traffic Down 1% During 2010, NPD Reports

The NPD Group said the number of U.S. restaurants fell 5,551 in net terms, or less than 1%, for the year ending September 30, 2010, as the foodservice recession continued to impact operators, especially independents. The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm also reported that restaurant traffic fell 1% for the year ending November.

NPD’s highly detailed ReCount census reported the total number of restaurants in the country stood at 579,102 as of the end of September last year. Still, most of the declines in net units appeared to occur in the first half of the year. The total was down only 314 restaurants from the total number NPD reported last spring.

The number of chain restaurants fell only slightly during the past year, from 267,499 to 267,408, But independents lost 2% of their net units, with the number falling from 317,154 to 311,694. Both quick-service and full-service restaurants saw 1% declines in net units.

“These past two years have been particularly tough for independents, which don’t have the resources to compete with the chains,” said Greg Starzynski, director, product development-foodservice for NPD.

In announcing that total restaurant traffic fell 1% for the year ending November ’10, NPD noted that customer visits have been trending higher. The group earlier said traffic fell only 0.7% in the third quarter ’10 and forecast 1% traffic gains for the fourth quarter and the first quarter ’11. Traffic fell 3% during ’09 and has been negative since the third quarter ’08.

Information on NPD research products is available at npd.com

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