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National Restaurant Association - Continued operator optimism keeps April RPI positive

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Continued operator optimism keeps April RPI positive


Buoyed by positive same-store sales and solid optimism among restaurant operators for continued growth, the outlook for the restaurant industry remained positive in April. 

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.9 in April, essentially unchanged from a level of 101.0 in March.  In addition, April represented the fifth consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The restaurant industry continued to build momentum in April, with restaurant operators reporting positive same-store sales and customer traffic levels for the sixth time in the last eight months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “Barring any significant external shocks, restaurant sales and traffic levels will continue to improve in the months ahead.”

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 100.3 in April – up slightly from a March level of 100.2.  In addition, the Current Situation Index stood above 100 for the second consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the current situation indicators. 

Fifty percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between April 2010 and April 2011, down slightly from 52 percent of operators who reported higher same-store sales in March. Restaurant operators also reported a net increase in customer traffic in April, although levels were somewhat softer than the March results. 

The Expectations Index stood at 101.5 in April – down slightly from a level of 101.7 in March.  Despite the decline, the Expectations Index stood above the 100 level for the ninth consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the forward-looking indicators.    

Restaurant operators remain bullish about sales growth in the months ahead.  Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down slightly from 50 percent who reported similarly last month. 

For more information, see our news release and subscription-based Restaurant TrendMapper

Watch a video summary of the April RPI, plus highlights of new research on recycling in restaurants.

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