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    Not Much Change Seen in U.S. Restaurant Count

    NPD Group data shows QSRs increase total units, but full-service location count is flat.

    CHICAGO – The restaurant industry saw just a slight increase in size compared to the prior year, with 3,045 more restaurants operating in the United States as of this spring, according to The NPD Group's Spring 2013 ReCount. The total number of restaurants increased by 0.5 percent to a total of 617,505.

    The latest ReCount, which compiles a list of commercial restaurant locations in the U.S. every spring and fall, includes restaurants open as of March 31. Quick-service restaurants increased 1 percent to 328,162 locations, while full-service restaurants including casual dining, midscale/family dining and fine dining were flat at 289,343 units. Chain restaurants grew 1.3 percent to 280,336 locations, but independent restaurants saw a slight 0.2-percent decline to 337,169 locations.

    NPD also reported that total restaurant traffic was flat for the year ended May 2013, compared to the same period last year. U.S. consumers made 61 billion restaurant visits during the year, 1.73 billion fewer than the number of visits made during the year ended May 2009, according to NPD's CREST, which tracks daily consumer use of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets.

    However, the future may see some improvement as NPD's recent report, "A Look Into the Future of Foodservice", predicts 4-percent growth of restaurant supper visits through 2022, or less than half a percent per year.

    "With the restaurant industry not yet fully recovered from the recession, restaurant operators are being more cautious in their expansion plans," said Greg Starzynski, director of product management for NPD Foodservice. "Based on our forecast for slow traffic growth over the next decade, restaurant expansion will continue to be conservative."

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