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The U.S. restaurant count increased by less than 1 percent from a year ago, reaching a total of 633,043 units, according to a recent restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group.
According to a news release, restaurant units increased by 4,179 in 2013, a slight 0.7 percent increase over 2012, based on NPD's Fall 2013 ReCount.
Restaurant chains led the way, with a 1-percent growth rate to total 281,613 units, an increase of 3,171 over the prior year. This data includes restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2013.
The independent restaurant count stood at 351,430, up a relatively flat 1,008 units compared to the year ago census.
By segment, quick-service restaurants were up 2 percent, to 333,970. Within that segment, the fast casual category increased by 902 units for a total of 16,215.
Conversely, casual dining, family dining and fine dining declined by 1 percent, to 299,073 units.
"The restaurant recovery continues to move slowly and as a result operators are taking a cautious approach to expansion," said Greg Starzynski, director, Product Management, NPD Foodservice. "This conservative approach to restaurant unit expansion will continue into the foreseeable future."
Additionally, total restaurant traffic visits were flat in the year ending December 2013. U.S. consumers made 61 billion restaurant visits during the period.
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