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National Restaurant Association - Dampened outlook causes RPI slip

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Dampened outlook causes RPI slip

As a result of a somewhat dampened outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) declined for the second consecutive month in June. 

The RPI stood at 102.0, down 0.4 percent from May and its lowest level in nine months. Despite the decline, June represented the 28th consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies continued expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Although same-store sales and customer traffic levels remained positive in June, the overall RPI declined as a result of dampened optimism among restaurant operators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. 

“The proportion of restaurant operators expecting sales growth fell to its lowest level in nine months, while operators’ outlook for the economy turned negative for the first time in nearly two years,” he said.

The RPI consists of two components – the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators' six-month outlook) – and tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry.

The Current Situation Index stood at 102.5 in June – essentially unchanged from a level of 102.6 in May. In addition, the Current Situation Index stood above 100 for the 16th consecutive month.

A majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales for the 16th consecutive month, as June’s results were similar to the May performance.  Operators also reported similar customer traffic results in May and June. Capital spending also remained at elevated levels.

The Expectations Index stood at 101.5 in June – down 0.6 percent from May and the lowest level in nine months.  Despite the decline, June represented the 32nd consecutive month in which the Expectations Index stood above 100, which indicates restaurant operators remain generally positive about business conditions in the coming months.

However, restaurant operators’ outlook for the overall economy turned negative for the first time in nearly two years, as only 17 percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, down from 30 percent last month. Still, 59 percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months.

More details are available at Restaurant.org/RPI and the revamped Restaurant TrendMapper (subscription required).

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