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National Restaurant Association - Restaurant Performance Index posted strong gain in December

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Restaurant Performance Index posted strong gain in December

RPI_Dec2010.jpgThe National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) posted a strong gain in December, launching the industry into 2011 on a positive note. The gain is driven by expanding same-store sales and customer traffic levels, as well as growing optimism among restaurant operators.

The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 101.0 in December, up a strong 1.1 percent from its November level.  In addition, December marked the third time in the last four months that the RPI stood above100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Overall, the RPI stood above 100 for the third time in the last four months, which suggests that the recovery is gaining a firm foothold,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “Driven by operators’ optimistic outlook for sales and economic conditions in the months ahead, the RPI’s Expectations Index rose to its highest level in nearly four years.”

The RPI consists of two components, the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators’ six-month outlook).

The Current Situation Index stood at 99.7 in December – up 1.0 percent from November. For the third time in the last four months, restaurant operators reported a net increase in same-store sales. Operators also reported a net increase in customer traffic levels, and relatively steady levels of capital spending activity. 

The Expectations Index stood at 102.4 in December – up 1.2 percent from November and its highest level since March 2007. Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 42 percent last month and the strongest level in more than four years.

Bolstered by an improving outlook, restaurant operators’ plans for capital spending rose to its highest level in nearly three years.  Fifty percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 47 percent who reported similarly last month. 

For the third consecutive month, restaurant operators reported a positive outlook for staffing gains in the months ahead.  Twenty-three percent of operators expect to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just 11 percent plan to reduce staffing levels in six months. 

See the full report for more details.

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