CHICAGO — Independent restaurants decreased 2% during the fall of 2014, leading to an overall decline of 1% in the U.S. restaurant count, reported The NPD Group, a leading global information company.
NPD said the overall decline in restaurant units was attributed entirely to independent restaurants, according to the company’s Fall 2014 ReCount, which includes restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2014. NPD said the decline in independent restaurants was concentrated on the full-service segment, which includes casual dining, midscale/family dining and fine dining.
But chain restaurants registered a 1% increase during the period, according to NPD. Additionally, the total quick-service restaurant segment posted a 1% year-over-year increase. Fast-casual restaurant chains led unit gains in the segment, NPD noted. Chain restaurants include independent and chain quick-service restaurants.
“Without the increase in fast-casual chain units, we would be seeing greater declines in restaurant counts,” said Greg Starzynski, director of product management for NPD Foodservice. “Until consumers show an increase in their visit frequency, we are not expecting much in the way of broad scale unit expansion.”
Growth in customer traffic was flat in 2014, NPD said. Visits to restaurants were flat for the year compared to the same period in 2013, according to NPD’s CREST food service market research. Visits to quick-service restaurants, which represent 79% of total industry traffic, climbed 1%, while full-service restaurant traffic, representing 21% of total visits, slipped 2% in 2014.Markets with a growing restaurant presence included Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.; Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Fla.; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro; Boise City-Nampa, Idaho metro and Madison, Wis. metro.