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National Restaurant Association - Hurricane slows sales, traffic, latest Performance Index reports

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Hurricane slows sales, traffic, latest Performance Index reports

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index for September declined, reflecting softer same-store sales and customer traffic conditions.

According to Riehle, the September RPI was 101.1, down 0.9 percent from 102.0 a month earlier.

Still, operators indicated they remain cautiously optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead, our Senior Vice President of Research, Hudson Riehle, said. However, he added that 23 percent of them also said they are concerned that economic conditions could worsen over the next six months.

Hurricane Florence, which caused severe damage to the southeast coast, was one reason for the moderation in sales, Riehle said.

Here are some of the September report’s economic highlights:

Job growth
For the month, the industry lost 18,200 jobs, the largest monthly downturn since September 2017. Riehle, again, cited Hurricane Florence as the reason for the decline. Despite the drop-off, however, the industry still added 238,000 jobs over the past year. Its employment growth rate was 2.0 percent, slightly above the national employment growth rate of 1.7 percent.

Capital spending
The September report noted that 66 percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure, such as a restaurant remodeling or equipment purchases, over the last three months, and 65 percent said they plan to make an expenditure within the next six months.

The commodities market
Wholesale food prices continued to trend lower, down 0.2 percent on a year-to-date basis. Prices of certain commodities, such as eggs, potatoes, citrus fruits and tomatoes, rose while others, including fresh vegetables, poultry, pork and cheese, declined.

Here is the breakdown on those commodities price changes on a year-to-date basis:

Eggs, up 68 percent
Citrus fruits, up 15 percent
Potatoes, up 11 percent
Tomatoes, up 5 percent

Vegetables, down 12 percent
Poultry, down 7 percent
Pork, down 6 percent
Cheese, down 2 percent

Overall inflation ran at a 2.5 percent rate year-to-date through September, and menu prices were up 2.6 percent for the same period.

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