Restaurants dipped 0.3 percent in fall 2009 from the previous year, amounting to 1,652 fewer restaurant units nationwide, according to a release about the restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group.
 
NPD's latest ReCount, a census of commercial restaurant locations in the United States conducted in the spring and fall each year, shows unit counts for total chain restaurants flat and independent unit counts down in fall 2009 compared to fall 2008.
 
Unit counts for total chain quick-service restaurants remained stable while independent quick-service restaurant units declined 2 percent. Unit counts for the fast casual segment grew 3 percent, going from 9,784 in fall 2008 to 10,081 in fall 2009.  
 
Full-service restaurant (casual dining, midscale, and fine dining) counts were flat for both total chain and independents. However, looking deeper, mid-sized and minor chains are showing declines across the board while major chains are growing slightly in both segments.
 
"NPD's fall 2009 ReCount reflects a slowdown in chains expanding and two years of a challenging economy already weeding out the poorest performing restaurants," said Greg Starzynski, director, product development-foodservice at NPD, in a news release. "The economy has been particularly hard on independent restaurants and smaller regional chains that don't have the same financial resources as the national chains."
 
In terms of restaurant unit counts by geography, NPD finds that the Central United States Census Bureau Region was hardest hit and decreased its total restaurant units by -1.2 percent, including states such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. The Northeast census region also saw decreases of -0.6 percent for total restaurant units.

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