U.S. Restaurant Count Declines

CHICAGO -- U.S. restaurant unit count declined 1 percent, or 5,204 restaurants, this spring compared to spring 2009, according to new foodservice market research by The NPD Group.

NPD’s Spring 2010 ReCount, which is a census of commercial restaurant locations in the U.S. compiled in the spring and fall each year, found that independent restaurant closings contributed to most of the decline, while chain units remained relatively stable.

According to the Spring 2010 ReCount, which was collected from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010, the number of quick-service restaurants (QSRs) declined 1 percent or 2,521 units. Full-service restaurant units, which include the casual dining, midscale and fine dining segments, also experienced a unit loss of 1 percent or 2,683 units.

“It’s been a difficult time for the restaurant industry with customer traffic down over the past year,” stated Greg Starzynski, director, product development-foodservice at NPD. “The unit losses we’re seeing in our latest census are a reflection of the weakness in the industry with the greatest impact on the independent restaurant operators.”

According to NPD’s CREST service -- which continuously tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets -- visits to U.S. restaurants declined by 3 percent for the year ending May 2010, compared to a year ago. Consumer spending at restaurants declined 1 percent -- the first decline in dollars NPD has reported since it began tracking the foodservice industry in 1976, according to the company.

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