The NPD Group's 2017 fall census has revealed a 2 percent drop in the number of U.S. restaurants, to 647,288 units, over the previous year, according to "Nations Restaurant News."
Independent restaurants saw the greatest difference with a 3 percent decline, while the unit count for chains remained flat.
“The U.S. restaurant count is reflective of what’s happening in the foodservice industry today overall,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst, in a statement. “To expand or not expand units is a calculated decision on the part of restaurant operators.”
A decision Foodable restaurant guru Paul Barron says has been impacted by the rise in demand for off-premise meals and the growth of online companies like Amazon.
"There's a lot more pressures from online delivery and also the aspect of e-commerce, meal kits, and the likes that are really impeding on how a restaurant is going to grow."
Paul Barron broke down his top eight predictions for the restaurant industry including a decline in restaurant locations.
Online delivery, e-commerce, and meal kits are all cited as reasons behind the restaurant quickening.
Chain counts grew to 301,183 units, a 982-unit increase, which kept the total count flat compared with fall 2016, the NPD Group's report found.
The total number of independent restaurants declined to 346,105 units, a decrease of 10,952 units from the same period last year, according to the census, which NPD conducts each spring and fall.
Quick-service restaurant locations declined by 1 percent, to 353,121 units, the report found. Fast-casual chains, which NPD categorizes within quick service, increased unit count by 4 percent, to a total of 25,118 locations.
Full-service restaurant units, which include casual dining, family dining, and fine dining, fell 2 percent, to 294,167 units in fall 2017, according to NPD.
The fall census includes all restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2017. See more about this data at "Nations Restaurant News."