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Consumer Trends

Visits to indies decline

The sluggish economy of the past few years has led to a steady loss of traffic share by independent restaurants, according to research by The NPD Group. But the indies' loss equals a small gain for the major restaurant chains.

  • U.S. restaurant visits declined from 62.7 billion in 2008 to 60.6 billion in 2011
  • Independent restaurants accounted for 2 billion (87%) of these traffic losses
  • Independent restaurants represented 28% of industry traffic in the year ending November, 2008; they now represent 27% of visits
  • Restaurant chains have held a steady share of industry visits and gained the independents' 1% share loss, increasing share from 60% in 2008 to 61% in 2011
  • Chains have grown by 4,511 units and the number of independents has decreased by 7,158 units since 2008, based on NPD's ReCount, a bi-annual count of U.S. restaurants  
  • Total traffic for the year ending November, 2011 was flat compared to 2010, reports NPD's CREST service, which tracks consumer use of foodservice. Visits to chain restaurants were up 1% while visits to independents were down 4%

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