Canadian Pizza Magazine

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U.S. restaurants report: fewer independents, more quick-service


February 21, 2018
By Canadian Pizza

Chicago – A drop in independent restaurants lowered the number of restaurant units in the U.S., but an increase in quick-service restaurants brought the country’s total traffic flat by the end of 2017, according to NPD Group research.

The U.S. restaurant count reached 647,288 in fall of 2017, a two per cent decrease in units from a year ago, according to a recent restaurant census conducted by the NPD Group.

The primary source of the decline in U.S. restaurant units was a three per cent drop in independent restaurant units compared to a stable restaurant chain count, says NPD’s Fall 2017 ReCount, a census of commercial restaurant locations in the United States compiled in the spring and fall each year.

Restaurant chain counts grew to 301,183 units, a 982 unit increase, which kept the total chain count flat compared to fall 2016, NPD said in a news release.

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The total number of independent restaurants declined to 346,105 units, a decrease of 10,952 units from last year.

Quick-service restaurants declined by one per cent to 353,121 units. Fast-casual chains, which are a restaurant category under QSR, increased units by four per cent to a total of 25,118. Full-service restaurant units, which include casual dining, family dining, and fine dining restaurants, stood at 294,167 units in fall 2017, a two per cent decline, according to NPD’s report, which includes in its fall 2017 census all restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2017.  

Total U.S. restaurant traffic ended 2017 flat, and had it not been for a one per cent increase in quick service restaurant visits, an increase primarily driven by chains, traffic would have declined, the research firm said.

“The U.S. restaurant count is reflective of what’s happening in the foodservice industry today overall,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “To expand or not expand units is a calculated decision on the part of restaurant operators. Chains simply have more monetary resources to grow units whereas independents do not.”