Chicago -- A Tuesday report by NPD Group said that U.S. restaurant unit counts declined by 2%, which translates to a loss of 9,450 restaurants since last year.
According to the report, most of the total unit declines were independent restaurants. Chain restaurant unit counts remained relatively stable, according to NPD research.
From April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, the number of quick-service restaurants declined by 1%, or 3,495 units. Full-service restaurant units, which includes casual dining, mid-scale and fine dining restaurants, decreased by 5,965 units, a 2% decline.
“The decline in independent units is the steepest we’ve seen since NPD began conducting the Spring ReCount census in 2001,” said Greg Starzynski, director, product development-foodservice. “A volatile economy, more frugal consumers, and a lack of financial backing have made it a difficult business environment for independent restaurants.”
According to NPD’s CREST report, which continually tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets, the declines the restaurant industry has been experiencing over the last several years are improving. For year ending May 2011, visits to U.S. restaurants held stable compared to same time year ago when visits were down 3%. Consumer spending at restaurants improved by 2% for year ending May 2011 compared with same time year ago when dollars were down by 1%.