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National Restaurant Association - Leap year boosts February RPI

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Leap year boosts February RPI

Fueled by strong sales and traffic gains as a result of leap year, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose sharply in February. The RPI stood at 102.1, up 1.5 percent from January’s level.

“The extra day proved beneficial for restaurant sales and customer traffic in February, but restaurant operators remain unsure about future improvements in the overall economic climate,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. “In addition, restaurant operators continue to report positive capital spending activity despite uneven industry performance in recent 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 102.8 in February – up 3.1 percent from a level of 99.7 in January. February represented the first time in three months it stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the current situation indicators.

For the first time in four months, a majority of restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales. Seventy-one percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between February 2015 and February 2016, while only 19 percent reported a sales decline. During the previous three months, just over four in 10 restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales. February also represented the first time in seven months that a majority of restaurant operators reported positive customer traffic levels.

The Expectations Index stood at 101.4 in February – down slightly from a level of 101.5 in January. Despite the dip, it stood above 100, which continues to indicate a generally positive outlook among restaurant operators for business conditions in the coming months.

Restaurant operators’ expectations for sales growth improved for the second consecutive month. Forty-six percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 39 percent last month and the highest level in nine months. In contrast, restaurant operators remain somewhat pessimistic about the direction of the overall economy.

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

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