NPD Report Predicts Increased Spending in Coming Years Despite Sluggish Traffic

The number of restaurants in the United States fell 1 percent between spring 2017 and spring 2018, according to a new report from The NPD Group.

A 2 percent drop in independent restaurant units, a decrease of 5,719 to 352,815 total, was the main driver of the overall decline, NPD said. Despite that downward trend, independent establishments still represent more than half of the total U.S. restaurant count and independent operators are expected to spend $43 billion with foodservice manufacturers and distributors in 2020, a 3.4 compounded annual growth rate compared to 2018. In all, independent restaurants are projected to represent 15 percent of the total operator spend, according to NPD’s Foodservice Future Views.

Other restaurant types saw smaller declines in unit numbers of stayed steady compared to 2017. Quick-service and full-service restaurants both fell by 1 percent to 357,766 units and 302,989 units respectively. The number of chain restaurants stood at 307,940, showing little fluctuation.

“The restaurant unit declines we captured in our spring 2018 census are reflective of the sluggish restaurant traffic the industry has been experiencing over the last several years,” said Annie Roberts, vice president of NPD’s SupplyTrack, ReCount, and Foodservice Future Views research services. “It takes a lot of resources and capital to withstand tougher times, and an experience and offering that keeps customers coming back.”