Both chains and independents expanded over the past year, The NPD Group finds
As U.S. consumers slowly increased their restaurant visits and spending in the spring of 2012, the restaurant industry notched its first increase in total unit count for chains and independents in nearly two years, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm found in its “Spring 2012 ReCount” report that total restaurant units increased by 2,872 in the 12 months ended March 31, 2012, to 592,960 locations. That increase comprised gains of 1,888 locations for chain restaurants and 984 openings for independents.
For the spring 2010 and spring 2011 “ReCount” reports, independent restaurants had lost 1,172 units and 1,331 units, respectively. During those two years, chain restaurants had benefited from independents’ struggles, growing by 2,114 locations in 2010 and 1,350 locations in 2011.
The quick-service segment was the biggest beneficiary to the restaurant industry’s renewed unit growth, accounting for 2,275 of the 2,872 new locations opened in the trailing 12 months.
“With improvement in restaurant visits and spending, restaurant operators, especially in the quick-service segment, are more willing to invest in new locations,” Greg Starzynski, director of product management for NPD Foodservice, said in a statement. “However, I expect them to take a more cautious approach to expansion than we saw earlier in the past decade. This is particularly true of the full-service segment, since expansion costs are significantly higher and traffic and spending gains have not been as strong in this segment.”
In a separate study, NPD’s CREST service had found that customer visits to U.S. restaurants had increased 1 percent for the 12 months ended May 31, 2012. During that period, consumer spending at restaurants had risen 2 percent.