The country had 26,892 restaurants in September, a net fall of 539 sites, according to the latest Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.
Independent restaurants fared badly, with numbers falling 2.6% over the year and family-owned Chinese, Indian and Italian sites bearing the brunt of closures.
But there was a 1% increase in managed restaurants, despite a tough year on the high street.
The Monitor says these larger operators have driven a 7.7% growth in the country’s restaurant numbers since September 2013, but that after years of expansion openings are reverting back to levels that ‘more accurately reflect demand’.
Peter Martin, CGA vice president, says there are ‘clearly limits to the country’s capacity’.
“We have seen a steady flow of pub and bar closures for many years now, but the restaurant sector is now going through its own clear out,” says Martin.
“The bulk of closures are from independents, while managed groups remain in growth—and this trend is welcome news for some of them, since it eases over-capacity and frees up more property.
"But these figures are a reminder that all restaurant brands need a well defined and brilliantly executed offer if they are to succeed in a survival of the fittest in 2019.”
The total number of Britain’s licensed pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants fell 3.2% year on year to 118,905.
Rural areas saw a higher rate of closures (3.6%) than high streets (2.6%). There was also a greater decline in licensed premises in the south (4%) than the north of England (2.8%).
Pubs and bars have closed at a faster rate than restaurants, the equivalent of around 24 sites a week, over the last five years.