Top 500 U.S. eateries in 2014 expected to see slight unit growth rate compared to last year.
Foodservice research firm Technomic predicts a 2.3% unit growth rate over 2013 among the top 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains. The increase is slightly higher than the 2.1% growth rate from 2012 to 2013 and much greater than the 0.5% growth rate in 2009.
“Unit growth will continue to rise in both the full- and limited-service segments,” said Darren Tristano, Technomic’s executive vice president. “Fast-casual concepts still show high levels of unit growth, as do limited- and full-service Asian concepts.”
Among full-service restaurant menu segments, Asian will increase units by 5.1%, followed by seafood (3.9%) and steak (3.4%). Asian/noodle also leads the limited-service menu segments, increasing unit counts by 8%, while bakery cafés and coffee cafés will grow units by 5.2% and 4.2%, respectively.
Many full-service brands have positioned themselves to expand this past year.
The largest growth has been at Buffalo Wild Wings, which will have added 65 units, Mellow Mushroom (32 units) and LongHorn Steakhouse (24 units). In limited service, Subway will add 908 units by year-end, followed by Starbucks (443), Jimmy Johns (350) and Dunkin Donuts (291). As a whole, limited-service restaurants are expected to gain a sales bump of 3.5%. Fast-casual chains should see a 10.8% increase in sales, while quick-service chains should increase a nominal 2.3%.
Full-service restaurants will experience a 2.5% sales increase in 2014, similar to the 2.4% increase in 2013. The fine dining category continues to show healthy growth, and should increase sales by 5.8%. Gains in casual-dining and midscale restaurants will be 2.8% and 0.5%, respectively.