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National Restaurant Association - RPI: Operators' sales outlook at 2-year low

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RPI: Operators' sales outlook at 2-year low

Although same-store sales and customer traffic remained positive in September, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) registered a modest decline. 

The RPI stood at 101.4 in September, down slightly from a level of 101.5 in August.  Despite the decline, September represented the 31st consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The RPI's current situation indicators continued to illustrate growth in September, as both same-store sales and customer traffic remained positive,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “However, restaurant operators are more cautious about business conditions in the months ahead, as the proportion expecting a sales increase fell to a two-year low.”

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 101.3 in September, down slightly from a level of 101.4 in August.  Despite the modest dip, the Current Situation Index remained above 100 for the 19th consecutive month. A majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales for the 19th consecutive month in September. Forty-two percent also reported increases in customer traffic.

The Expectations Index stood at 101.4 in September, down slightly from a level of 101.6 in August. The proportion of restaurant operators expecting their sales to rise steadily declined in recent months.  Thirty-five percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down from 44 percent last month and the lowest level in two years. Similarly, operators have mixed opinions about the direction of the overall economy. 

However, September was the 35th consecutive month in which the Expectations Index stood above 100.

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

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