The joint monthly report on retailer expansion plans issued by RBC Capital Markets and Retail Lease Trac shows that retailers are increasingly willing to consider opening new stores. The data confirms what industry observers and executives are saying—that retailers are breaking from the funk that gripped the industry through much of 2009 and looking to grow again.

Overall, the data from the two firms, which encompasses 2,215 retailers, shows that chains are planning on opening 65,257 stores in the next 24 months. The number is up 1.2 percent from December 2009. (The report does not follow expansion plans for some of the bigger U.S. chains, including Walmart, Target and Macy’s.)

According to the report, “Our data … supports the sentiment many of the retail landlords expressed during the fourth quarter earnings season suggesting there are signs of improvement, especially in occupancy, but that the road to recovery will likely be lengthy.”

The report includes lists of the retailers looking to add the most stores over the next 24 months. It also includes a list showing the retailers that are expanding the fastest as measured by the projected percentage increase in a store’s store base over the next 24 months.

By the latter measure, Five Guys Famous Burger and Fries is the fastest growing retail chain. The concept currently operates 400 stores and is planning to add 850 in the next 24 months—more than tripling its fleet of stores.

Consignment retailer Children’s Orchard is also planning on tripling the size of its portfolio in the next two years. Retailers planning on doubling the size of their portfolios in that same time frame include fast food chain A&W Restaurants, grocer Randall’s Tom Thumb, check cashing service provider Cash Store, sub shop operator Penn Station-East Coast Subs, grocer Fresh an Easy and restaurant Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.

–David Bodamer