There were 4,442 more restaurants in the U.S. in fall 2012 than there were in fall 2011, according to a recent U.S. restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group. The total number of U.S. restaurants is now 616,008, a 0.7 percent increase over last year.

This data is based on NPD's Fall 2012 ReCount, which is a count of commercial restaurant locations in the U.S. compiled in the spring and fall each year.

The Fall 2012 ReCount, which includes restaurants open as of Sept. 30, 2012, shows that most of the increase in units were in the quick-serve segment. The segment showed a 1 percent increase in units or an additional 4,037 units.

Full-service restaurant units, which include casual dining, midscale/family dining and fine dining restaurants, remained relatively stable from the Fall 2011 ReCount. The total chain restaurant count grew to 276,238, or a 1.1 percent increase compared to last year's count.

Independent restaurant units remained stable at a total count of 339,770, a slight increase of 0.4 percent, which is the second consecutive increase for independents since 2009, reports NPD.

Additional data from the NPD Group's Crest tracking system shows that total restaurant traffic was up 1 percent for the year ending November 2012 compared to the same period last year. American consumers made 60 billion restaurant visits during the period.

"The changes in spending, consumer visits and unit growth while slight are, at least, on the positive side," said Greg Starzynski, director, product management, NPD Foodservice. "I expected a cautious approach to unit expansion as consumer visits improved, and I have no reason to suspect that will change in the foreseeable future."

Read more about trends and statistics.

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