Fast casual restaurant chains have been growing both in units and customer visits for the last decade, The NPD Group has found.
The number of fast casual chain restaurants rose by 1% to 25,312 total units, based on NPD’s Fall 2018 ReCount restaurant census, which includes restaurants open as of 30 September 2018.
In the year ending February 2019 compared to year ago, fast casual customers increased their visits by 3% while the total quick service restaurant category, under which the fast casual category falls, were up 1% and total US foodservice traffic remained flat.
The top five city metro areas with the most fast casual chain units based on the Fall 2018 ReCount are in rank order:
– Los Angeles, 2,002 units, up 2%
– Dallas-Fort Worth, 1,146 units, down 1%
– New York City, 1,052, down 1%
– Chicago, 956, up 2%
– Washington DC, 884 units, up 1%
North Platte, Nebraska had a 100% jump in fast casual chain units when it went from one to two fast casual units!
The fast casual category is still a relatively small slice of the total foodservice industry.
Fast casual restaurants represent 8% of total quick service visits whereas traditional quick service restaurants, represent 75% of traffic, and quick service retail, like prepared foods available in grocery stores, represents 17%.