U.S. Total Restaurant Count Up Less Than 1%

Recovery continues to move slowly; conservative expansion will continue, says NPD

Restaurant NPD

CHICAGO -- The U.S. restaurant count increased by less than 1% from a year ago reaching a total of 633,043 units, according to a recent restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group, a global information company. Restaurant units increased by 4,179, a slight 0.7% increase over last year, based on NPD's Fall 2013 ReCount, which is a count of commercial restaurant locations in the United States compiled in the spring and fall each year.

Restaurant chains grew counts by 1% to a total of 281,613 units, an increase of 3,171 over last year, according to NPD's Fall 2013 ReCount, which includes restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2013. The independent restaurant count stood at 351,430, up 1,008 units compared to the year-ago census.

Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) grew units to 333,970, up 2%, and unit counts for full-service restaurants, which include casual dining, midscale/family dining and fine dining, declined by 1% to 299,073 units. Fast casual, which is a restaurant category under the QSR segment, increased units by 902 for a total of 16,215 in the most recent NPD restaurant census, up 6% from the Fall 2012 ReCount.

According to NPD's CREST, which tracks consumer use of commercial and noncommercial foodservice outlets daily, total restaurant traffic visits were flat in the year ending Dec. 2013, compared to the same period last year. U.S. consumers made 61 billion restaurant visits during the period.

"The restaurant recovery continues to move slowly and as a result operators are taking a cautious approach to expansion," said Greg Starzynski, director- product management, NPD Foodservice. "This conservative approach to restaurant unit expansion will continue into the foreseeable future."

*Editor's note: ReCount restaurant counts are available by classification, e.g., Hamburger, Pizza, Casual Dining Bar & Grill, etc. as well as geographical breakdowns, e.g., zip code, city, state, designated market area, census areas, etc.

The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to the automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food and foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supply, sports, technology, toy and video game sectors.