The NPD Group has revealed the top five fast casual restaurants based on number of units, and Chipotle is currently on top.
Research from The NPD Group has revealed that fast casual restaurant chains have grown in both units and customer visits.
The number of fast casual chain restaurants rose by 5% to 19,043 total units, based on NPD’s Fall 2015 ReCount restaurant census, which includes restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2015. Fast casual customers increased their visits by 6% in the year ending February 2016 compared to a year ago, while total foodservice traffic rose by 1%, according to NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research.
The top five fast casual restaurant chains based on number of units are: Chipotle Mexican Grill, 1896 units, up 9%; Panera Bread, 1869 units, up 9%; Panda Express, 1729 units, up 5%; Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 1225 units, up 4%; and Firehouse Subs, 925 units, up 10%. These and other fast casual chains have been one of the success stories of the restaurant industry for the last several years.
|Chains||# of Units||Percent Change from Year Ago|
|Five Guys Burgers and Fries||1225||4%|
The fast casual category is still a relatively small slice of the total foodservice industry. Fast casual restaurants represent 7% of total quick service visits, which represents 78% of total foodservice industry traffic. In units, the fast casual category is a small portion of the total 343,407 quick service restaurants in U.S. The total U.S. restaurant count decreased slightly (-.6%) from a year ago to 629,488 units, based on NPD’s Fall 2015 ReCount restaurant census.
“There has been significant unit growth in the fast casual category over the past several years, and it hasn’t reached a saturation point since traffic is still increasing,” says Greg Starzynski, director of product management, NPD Foodservice. “This would indicate that there is room for more growth for the fast casual category into the foreseeable future.”