U.S. Loses 5,500 Restaurants

January 25/Chicago/States News Service -- The number of U.S. restaurants in the country dropped by 1% -- or 5,551 total units, according to the NPD Group's most recent restaurant census.

NPD's Fall 2010 ReCount tracks commercial restaurant locations in the U.S., a survey that it updates each spring and fall. Overall, independent restaurants suffered the most, with a 2% decline in units, while the count of chain restaurants was flat. The number of QSRs dropped1%, or 2,122 units, while full-service restaurants were down 1%, or 3,429 units.

"These past two years have been particularly tough for independents, which don't have the resources to compete with the chains," said Greg Starzynski, director of product development-foodservice at NPD. "Over the past few years, we've lost several thousand independent restaurants."

According to NPD's CREST, which tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial food outlets, restaurant traffic has been declining since January 2009, though the trend is "softening." For the year ending November 2010, U.S. restaurant traffic dropped 1% compared to a year ago, while for the year ending November 2009, numbers were down 3% compared to the prior year.

Last week, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) announced that the number of U.S. convenience stores grew 1.2% over the past year and stands at 146,341 as of December 31, 2010, according to the NACS/Nielsen TDLinx 2011 Convenience Industry Store Count.

From the February 7, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition