The total U.S. restaurant count stood at 624,301 units in spring 2016, a one percent decrease from spring 2015, based on a restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group.
Total U.S. foodservice traffic was flat in the year ending June 2016 compared to one year ago. Visits to independent restaurants, a restaurant system type that is particularly challenged in a soft environment, were down 3 percent. Major chains posted a 1 percent gain in traffic while small chain visits were flat.
The drop in independent restaurants was concentrated in the full-service segment, which includes casual dining, midscale/family dining, and fine dining. Full-service independent units were down 3 percent while quick-service independent units declined by 2 percent.
Quick-service restaurant visits, which represent 80 percent of total industry traffic, were up 1 percent, family-dining and casual-dining restaurant traffic declined by 4 and 3 percent respectively.
“The decline in U.S. restaurant units overall is a reflection of the industry’s stalled traffic growth,” says Greg Starzynski, director-product management, NPD Foodservice. “Our forecast finds that U.S. foodservice visit growth will be less than one percent in the coming years, which means there will not be significant unit expansion for a while.”