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National Restaurant Association - Stronger sales, traffic bolster August RPI

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Stronger sales, traffic bolster August RPI

Buoyed by stronger same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) posted a modest gain in August. The RPI stood at 100.6 in August, up 0.4 percent from July and the first increase in five months.  August represented the tenth straight month that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies continued expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

"Growth in the RPI was driven largely by improving same-store sales and customer traffic results in August," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. "Six out of 10 restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales in August, while customer traffic readings bounced back from July's net decline."

RPI Graph Aug 2012.jpg

"In contrast, the Expectations Index remained dampened compared to recent stronger levels, with restaurant operators retaining a cautious outlook for sales growth and the economy in the months ahead," Riehle added.

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 100.6 in August – up 0.8 percent from July’s level of 99.8. After dipping below 100 in July for the first time in nine months, the August reading represents a return to expansion in the index of current situation indicators.

Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales for the 15th straight month, with August results representing a solid improvement over the July performance. Sixty-one percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between August 2011 and August 2012, up from 53 percent who reported positive sales in July.  In comparison, 25 percent of operators reported lower same-store sales in August, down from 36 percent in July.

Restaurant operators also reported a net increase in customer traffic levels in August.  Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between August 2011 and August 2012, up from 35 percent who reported positive traffic in July.  In contrast, only 32 percent of operators reported lower customer traffic levels in August, down sharply from 46 percent in July.

The Expectations Index stood at 100.7 in August – unchanged from July's level. Although August marked the 12th straight month that the Expectations Index stood above 100, it remained nearly two index-points below the post-recession peak reached in March.

For additional details, see our news release, full RPI report, and subscription-based Restaurant TrendMapper.


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