CHICAGO - With U.S. restaurant visits and consumer spending on the upswing after a recessionary slump, a more upbeat industry posted a 0.5% gain in restaurant counts in spring 2012, according to the most recent restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group. Total restaurant units reached 592,960, an increase of 2,872 units and the first positive change since 2009.
NPD€™s Spring 2012 ReCount, a census of U.S. commercial restaurant locations compiled in the spring and fall each year, reports that the number of independent restaurants, which have been on the decline since 2009, posted a slight increase of 984 locations. Total independent units reached 320,193, while chain restaurant units were up by 1,888 units to reach 272,367.
The Spring 2012 ReCount shows that most of the increase in units was in quick-service restaurants, which increased by 2,275 locations to a total of 315,401 over a year ago. Full-service restaurant units, which include casual dining, mid-scale and fine dining restaurants, posted a 0.2% increase from the Spring 2011 ReCount.
Visits to U.S. restaurants improved by 1% over a year ago for year ending May 2012, and consumer spending increased by 2 percent, according to NPD€™s CREST.
"With improvement in restaurant visits and spending, restaurant operators, especially in the quick service segment, are more willing to invest in new locations," said Greg Starzynski, director- product management for NPD Foodservice, in a press release. "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."