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National Restaurant Association - Softer sales offset by stronger optimism in February's RPI

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Softer sales offset by stronger optimism in February's RPI

Despite dampened sales and customer traffic levels as a result of extreme weather in parts of the country, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) held relatively steady in February.  The RPI stood at 102.6 in February, down slightly from a level of 102.7 in January. 

In addition, February marked the 24th consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“With same-store sales and customer traffic levels being impacted by challenging weather conditions in parts of the country, the Current Situation component of the RPI declined in February,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “However, this was offset by a solid improvement in the Expectations component of the index, as restaurant operators are increasingly optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead.  As a result, the overall RPI held relatively steady in February.”

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 102.0 in February – down from a level of 102.7 in January.  Despite the decline, the Current Situation Index stood above 100 for the 12th consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the current situation indicators.

Although sales and traffic were dampened somewhat by extreme weather conditions in parts of the country, a majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales for the 12th consecutive month in February.

Along with positive sales and customer traffic trends in recent months, restaurant operators ramped up capital spending.  Fifty-nine percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months. Sixty-four percent also plan to make a capital expenditure in the next 6 months. 

The Expectations Index stood at 103.3 in February – up 0.5 percent from January’s level of 102.8.  In addition, February represented the 28th consecutive month in which the Expectations Index stood above 100, which indicates an optimistic outlook among restaurant operators for business conditions in the coming months.

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

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