U.S. restaurant unit counts down 2% from 2010, or a loss of 9,450 restaurants, NPD says; most of total unit declines were independent restaurants, which struggled with volatile economy, more frugal consumers, lack of financial backing

CHICAGO , August 10, 2011 (press release) – Independent units decline by -3 percent while chain units remain flat

U.S. restaurant unit counts declined by -2 percent, or a loss of 9,450 restaurants, based on the most recent restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group, a leading market research company. NPD's Spring 2011 ReCount®, which is a census of commercial restaurant locations in the United States compiled in the spring and fall each year, finds most of the total unit declines were independent restaurants, 8,650 of which closed in the census period. Chain restaurant unit counts remained relatively stable.

NPD's Spring 2011 ReCount, which was collected from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, finds that the number of quick service restaurants declined by -1 percent or 3,485 units. Full service restaurant units, which includes casual dining, mid-scale, and fine dining restaurants, decreased by 5,965 units, a -2 percent decline from the Spring 2010 ReCount.

"The decline in independent units is the steepest we've seen since NPD began conducting the Spring ReCount census in 2001," says 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 The NPD Group's CREST®, 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 percent. Consumer spending at restaurants improved by 2 percent for year ending May 2011 compared to same time year ago when dollars were down by -1 percent.

*Editor's note: ReCount® restaurant counts are available by a variety of breakdowns; including geographical breakdowns, e.g., zip code, city, state, designated market area, census areas, etc.

About The NPD Group, Inc.

The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit http://www.npd.com/, or follow us Twitter at https://twitter.com/npdgroup.

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