National Restaurant Association - December RPI declines due to softer sales, traffic

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December RPI declines due to softer sales, traffic

Due in large part to softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index declined in December.  The RPI stood at 99.7 in December, down 0.2 percent from November, marking the third consecutive month in which the RPI stood below 100, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.

“Although restaurant operators reported softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels in December, they are cautiously optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “However, operators remain decidedly pessimistic about the overall economy, with only 17 percent saying they expect business conditions to improve in the next six months.”

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 99.1 in December - down 0.7 percent from November and the lowest level in nearly two years. Although restaurant operators reported net positive same-store sales for the 19th consecutive month, December's results were much softer than the November performance.

Although sales and traffic results softened, restaurant operators reported an uptick in capital spending, with 45 percent of operators saying they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months.

The Expectations Index stood at 100.3 in December – up 0.3 percent from November.  December represented the first time in three months that the Expectations Index rose above the 100 level, which indicates that restaurant operators are becoming somewhat more optimistic about the business environment in the months ahead.       

In addition, restaurant operators continue to plan for capital spending in the months ahead.  Fifty percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 45 percent who reported similarly last month. 

For more details, read our news release, full RPI report and subscription-based Restaurant TrendMapper.

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