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

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RPI declines in September due to softer sales, traffic

As a result of softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) declined in September, standing at 100.4, down 0.3 percent from August.

Performance Index.gifDespite the decline, September represented the 11th consecutive month that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies continued expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Although restaurant operators reported softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels in September, they are somewhat more bullish about sales growth in the months ahead,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “Forty-five percent of restaurant operators expect their sales to improve in the next six months, while only 11 percent expect weaker sales.”

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 99.9 in September – down 0.7 percent from a level of 100.6 in August. Although same-store sales remained positive in September, the softness in the labor and customer traffic indicators outweighed the performance, which led to a Current Situation Index reading below 100 for the second time in the last three months.

Although restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales for the 16th consecutive month in September, results were much softer than recent months. Operators reported a net decline in customer traffic levels in September, but an uptick in capital spending activity.

The Expectations Index stood at 100.9 in September – up 0.2 percent from August. Although August marked the 13th consecutive month that the Expectations Index stood above 100, it remains below the stronger levels reached during the first half of 2012.

Restaurant operators are somewhat more optimistic that their sales levels will improve in the months ahead, but are more uncertain about the direction of the overall economy.

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

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