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Top 500 chains seeing slowing sales growth for the second consecutive year

Technomic’s recently published report finds both sales and unit growth to be stagnant for leading chains

CHICAGO, Feb. 15, 2018: The latest research from Technomic suggests a continued slowdown for the Top 500 chain restaurants, with cumulative 2017 sales growth at 3.2%, down from 3.8% in the prior year. Net unit growth also saw a decline at 1.1%, compared to 1.8% in 2016. The source of this information, Technomic’s 2018 Top 500 Chain Restaurant Advance Report, is the industry’s leading chain performance tracker, providing a one-year sales forecast by menu category, an expanded outlook and opportunities section, as well as key themes to help navigate the current industry landscape.

The advance report is available for purchase prior to the full report’s publication at the end of March at

“Chains today are facing increasingly challenging business conditions, with most publicly held chains seeing mixed same-store sales results in 2017,” said Joe Pawlak, Technomic managing principal. “Among these challenges lie the rise of retail foodservice and other meal options. Additionally, consumers are becoming accustomed to a stronger deal environment, forcing operators to lessen their margins to stay competitive.”

Key report findings include:

  • 2017 sales growth was heavily driven by limited-service chains, up by 4.1%
  • Fast casual is once again the leading subsegment, with 8.9% sales growth in 2017
  • Full service sales growth slowed from 1.4% growth in 2016 to 0.5% in 2017
  • One of the fastest growing chains, Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, is also new to the rankings

Other new entrants into the Top 500 chain rankings include Jinya Ramen Bar, bartaco and Naf Naf, who all grew their sales by over 20%. Out of the twenty fastest-growing chains, half of them are fast-causal concepts, proving that this subsegment is still the bright spot in the industry. Exceptional sales growth was also seen from the fine-dining subsegment which experienced a 3.8% increase, with growth led by Texas de Brazil Churrascaria, Ocean Prime, STK and Fogo de Chao.

Note: The results reported here are preliminary and subject to revision.

To purchase or learn more about this and other industry reports from Technomic, please visit or contact one of the individuals listed below.

Press inquiries: Joe Pawlak, (312) 506-3940,
Purchasing details: Patrick Noone, (312) 506-3852, or

About Technomic
Technomic Inc., a Winsight company, delivers a 360-degree view of the food industry. It impacts growth and profitability for clients by providing consumer-grounded vision and channel-relevant strategic insights. Its services range from major research studies and management consulting solutions to online databases and simple fact-finding assignments. Its clients include food manufacturers and distributors, restaurants and retailers, other foodservice organizations, and various institutions aligned with the food industry. Visit Technomic at

About Winsight, LLC
Winsight LLC is a recognized leader in business-to-business media and information services for the convenience-retailing, foodservice and grocery industries. Winsight has an extensive media portfolio, including five publications: CSP, Restaurant Business, FoodService Director, Convenience Store Products and Winsight Grocery Business. Winsight also offers a suite of digital products, including websites, e-newsletters, webinars, video products, mobile and tablet apps, and custom marketing solutions. In addition to more than 12 major EduNetworking conferences and advisory meetings, Winsight also produces seven exclusive, large-scale executive-level conferences: Restaurant Leadership Conference, Global Restaurant Leadership Conference, Outlook Leadership Conference, Convenience Retailing University, FSTEC, MenuDirections and Restaurant Directions. In 2015, Winsight acquired Technomic Inc., a provider of primary and secondary market information and advisory services for the food industry. For more information on Winsight and its brands, go to

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