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Independent restaurant units dropped by 2 percent compared to a year ago, while chain counts were flat, according to NPD’s Fall 2010 ReCount, which includes restaurants reported to be open as of September 30, 2010.
The number of quick-service restaurants declined by 1 percent or 2,122 units. Full-service restaurant units, which include casual, mid-scale and fine dining, also experienced a unit loss of 1 percent 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, product development-foodservice at NPD. "Over the past few years we've lost several thousand independent restaurants."
Restaurant traffic has been down since January 2009, although visit declines are softening, according to The NPD Group’s CREST, which continually tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets. For the year ending November 2010, U.S. restaurant traffic declined by 1 percent compared to a year ago. This is an improvement over the 3-percent decline in visits for year ending November 2009 compared to the prior year.