Although the restaurant industry added a net 9,877 establishments in 2015, it expanded at a rate below the overall private sector for the second consecutive year, according to the NRA’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy. His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on Restaurant.org and Restaurant TrendMapper.
The restaurant industry continued to expand at a moderate pace in 2015, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The restaurant industry added a net 9,877 establishments* in 2015, an increase of 1.7 percent. The 2015 increase was an improvement over the net 8,503 locations (+1.5 percent) added in 2014, and represented the strongest annual gain since 2012.
However, 2015 marked the third consecutive year in which the industry expanded by fewer than 10,000 establishments, a threshold that was commonly eclipsed in the mid-2000s.
Meanwhile, the overall private sector added a net 185,152 business establishments in 2015, a solid 2.0 percent increase over 2014. The 2015 gain represented the strongest annual expansion since 2006, when the economy added more than 210,000 business establishments.
The private sector’s strong 2.0 percent increase in 2015 also marked the second consecutive year in which restaurant industry expansion was outstripped by the overall private sector, after posting a stronger growth rate in each of the previous 8 years.
Within the restaurant industry, the quickservice segment added the most units in 2015. The quickservice segment added a net 4,819 establishments in 2015, a 2.2 percent increase over 2014 and the largest expansion since a net gain of 5,384 locations in 2003.
The fullservice segment added a net 2,916 establishments in 2015, which was up slightly from an increase of 2,438 locations in 2014. However, the dampened 2014 and 2015 gains came on the heels of four consecutive years of fullservice expansion above 3,000 units.
The snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar segment – which includes concepts such as coffee, donut and ice cream shops – added a net 1,499 locations in 2015, a 2.9 percent increase over its 2014 level. Although it outpaced the fullservice and quickservice expansion rates, the segment’s 2015 increase represented a slowdown from its much stronger growth rates of 3.0 percent and 4.2 percent in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
*The establishment figures, which are based on unemployment insurance filings of businesses that have wage and salary employees, represent the most comprehensive census of establishments with payroll employees on the national, state and local levels.
[see June 10 post for state-by-state restaurant location data]