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Total U.S. restaurant count dips 1%

Chain units flat as independent numbers fall, NPD finds

The number of U.S. restaurants declined 1 percent, to 660,755, in spring 2018, with chain counts remaining flat and independent operations showing a decline, according to The NPD Group ReCount census released Wednesday.

“The primary source of the decline in U.S. restaurant units was a 2 percent drop in independent restaurant units compared to a stable restaurant chain count,” the Chicago-based information company reported.

NPD conducts the census of commercial restaurant locations twice a year, in the spring and the fall. The spring 2018 census counted restaurants open as of March 31. 

Chain restaurant counts grew to 307,940 units, which kept the total chain count flat compared to spring 2017, NPD said.

The number of independent restaurants stood at 352,815 units, a decline of 5,719 units from last year.

Quick-service restaurant units declined by 1 percent, to 357,766, which NPD said was due to a decrease in QSR independents. Full-service restaurant units, which include casual-dining, family-dining and fine-dining restaurants, stood at 302,989 units in spring 2018, a 1 percent decline, according to NPD’s ReCount.

“The restaurant unit declines we captured in our spring 2018 census are reflective of the sluggish restaurant traffic the industry has been experiencing over the last several years,” said Annie Roberts, vice president of NPD’s SupplyTrack, ReCount and Foodservice Future Views research services, in a statement.

“It takes a lot of resources and capital to withstand tougher times,” Roberts added.

While the number of independent restaurant units in the U.S. dropped by 2 percent, the independent restaurant units remaining open still represent more than half of all U.S. commercial restaurants, NPD noted.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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