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National Restaurant Association - Solid improvements in sales, traffic drive RPI gain in March

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Solid improvements in sales, traffic drive RPI gain in March

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) stood at 101.0 in March, up 0.3 percent from February, driven by strong gains in same-store sales and customer traffic levels. In fact, the current situation is the strongest in almost four years.

Performance-Index-March-11.jpg“The overall Current Situation component of the RPI stood above 100 for the first time in 43 months, which signifies expansion in the indicators of current industry performance,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. 

The Restaurant Performance Index 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 100.2 in March – up 0.8 percent from February and its third strong gain in the last four months. Fifty-two percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between March 2010 and March 2011, up from 49 percent in February and the strongest level since August 2007. Forty-five percent of restaurant operators also reported an increase in customer traffic in the same timeframe, up from 41 percent in February.

The Expectations Index stood at 101.7 in March – down slightly from February’s level of 101.9.  Despite the decline, the Expectations Index stood above the 100 level for the eighth consecutive month, and restaurant operators’ plans for capital spending rose to the highest level in 41 months.

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

For more details on the March RPI, see our news release and subscription-based Restaurant TrendMapper.

Watch a video summary on the March RPI, plus an update on Mother's Day dining.


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