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National Restaurant Association - Restaurant Performance Index improved in November, but remained below 100

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Restaurant Performance Index improved in November, but remained below 100

Buoyed by positive same-store sales and customer traffic results, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose in November. However, November marked the second straight month in which the RPI stood below 100.

“The November gain in the RPI was driven by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels, both of which registered their strongest performance in three months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “However, restaurant operators remain concerned about the direction of the overall economy, due in large part to the uncertainty around the fiscal cliff.”

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 99.8 in November – up 0.6 percent from 99.3 in October.  Although restaurant operators reported net positive sales and traffic results in November, softness in the labor and capital spending indicators outweighed the performance, resulting in a Current Situation Index reading below 100 for the fourth time in the last five months.

Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales for the 18th straight month, with November’s results representing the strongest performance in three months.  Restaurant operators also reported a net gain in customer traffic levels in November.  Forty-three percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between November 2011 and November 2012, up from 30 percent who reported positive traffic in October.

The Expectations Index stood at 100.0 in November – up 0.4 percent from October.  Although November was an improvement over October’s reading of 99.7, it still signals that restaurant operators are uncertain about the business environment in the months ahead.

Restaurant operators are somewhat more optimistic about sales growth in the coming months.  Thirty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 31 percent last month. In contrast, restaurant operators remain generally pessimistic 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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