Many foodservice suppliers rely solely on large chain restaurants to generate revenue. In reality, the restaurant landscape of the United States is a diverse market that represents white space opportunities within both the chain and independent segments. How do independent restaurants stack up against their chain counterparts? CHD Expert, the Chicago-based foodservice database and analytics firm, has released the latest market landscape overview, detailing independent restaurants in the United States.
As of September 2016, there are more than 449,000 independent restaurants in the United States. CHD Expert defines an independent as a foodservice establishment with fewer than 10 units. Independent restaurants make up 66 percent of the total US restaurant landscape, according to data from CHD Expert’s foodservice database. In comparison, there are more than 231,000 chain restaurants representing 34 percent of the total US restaurant landscape. While chain restaurants are among some of the most recognizable global brands, when it comes to the US landscape, independent restaurants outnumber chains nearly two to one.
When it comes to annual sales, 55 percent of independent restaurants gross less than $500,000 a year, while 35 percent gross from $500,000 to $1 million. Approximately 10 percent of independent restaurants gross over $1 million a year, just over 44,000 establishments.
Longevity may be a concern to foodservice suppliers wishing to establish long-term contracts. In the independent restaurant landscape, 63 percent of independents have been in business for 5+ years while 74 percent of chains have been in business the same length of time. Considering new restaurants, there is an abundance of opportunities with CHD Expert having records of 2,300+ restaurants that have opened in the past 30 days; 80% of these restaurants are independent operators, and 60% are full service restaurants.
Breaking the nation's restaurant landscape down further into Full Service Restaurants (FSRs) and Limited Service Restaurants (LSRs), CHD Expert’s data reveals that the overwhelming majority of FSRs are Independent, at 91 percent. Conversely, only about 41 percent of LSRs are classified as independent. Chain restaurants are more likely to be classified as LSRs, where customers order and pay at a counter before receiving food. Table service is more often provided at FSRs and customers pay the bill after eating.
CHD Expert data indicates that independent restaurants are more prevalent in the north, whereas fast food chains make up a bigger percentage of the restaurant landscape in the south.
For foodservice suppliers that want to generate increased revenue by selling to independent restaurants, understanding the restaurant landscape of the US is critical.
"Landing big sales is not exclusive to the chain restaurant industry. Reaching independent operators can be less challenging than engaging with large corporations, as it’s easier to interact directly with the decision makers," said Catherine Kearns, General Manager at CHD Expert The Americas. "With relevant restaurant and operator data from CHD Expert sales professionals can create stronger strategies for targeting the independent landscape and increasing profits. Instead of entering into restrictive contracts with chains that require discounted pricing, foodservice suppliers can leverage lucrative white space opportunities in the independent restaurant industry."
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