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National Restaurant Association - RPI hits 14-month high on positive sales, customer traffic

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RPI hits 14-month high on positive sales, customer traffic

Buoyed by stronger same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) hit a 14-month high in May. The RPI stood at 101.8 in May, up 0.9 percent from April and the third consecutive monthly gain. May also represented the third straight month that the RPI topped the 100 level, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The May increase in the Restaurant Performance Index was driven by broad-based gains in the current situation indicators, most notably positive same-store sales and customer traffic results,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “In addition, restaurant operators remain optimistic about continued sales growth and a majority plan to make a capital expenditure 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 stood at 101.6 in May – up 1.6 percent from a level of 100.1 in April. May represented the strongest Current Situation Index reading since March 2012. A majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales in May, and the overall results were a solid improvement over the April performance. Restaurant operators also reported a net gain in customer traffic levels in May.

The Expectations Index stood at 102.0 in May – the strongest level in 12 months. Each of the four expectations indicators stood above 100 for the fifth consecutive month, which indicates broad-based optimism for business conditions in the coming months. Restaurant operators are increasingly optimistic about their sales prospects in the months ahead, however they are not quite as bullish about the direction of the overall economy.

Restaurant operators continue to plan for capital spending in the months ahead. Fifty-seven percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, down slightly from 59 percent who reported similarly last month.

Restaurant operators are also generally positive on the staffing front in the coming months. Twenty-one percent of operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just 8 percent said they plan to cut positions. 

Along with the positive sales and traffic results, restaurant operators reported an increase in capital spending activity. Fifty-two percent of operators saying they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, up from 47 percent who reported similarly last month.

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

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