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National Restaurant Association - January RPI declines as harsh weather dampens sales, traffic

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January RPI declines as harsh weather dampens sales, traffic


The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) stood at 100.2 in January, down 0.8 percent from its December level, due in large part to harsh weather.  Despite the decline, January marked the fourth time in the last five months that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The RPI’s January decline was due in large to part to dampened sales and traffic levels as a result of extreme weather in some parts of the country,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. 

“Although restaurant operators reported softer same-store sales and customer traffic results in January, their outlook for sales growth and the economy remained optimistic,” he added. “Overall, the economic fundamentals of the restaurant industry remain positive, which will likely lead to stronger sales and traffic levels 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).

The Current Situation Index stood at 98.6 in January – down 1.1 percent from its December level. Restaurant operators reported net declines in both same-store sales and customer traffic, but continued to report relatively steady levels of capital spending. 

The Expectations Index stood at 101.8 in January – down 0.5 percent from December’s 45-month high of 102.4.  Despite the decline, the Expectations Index stood above the 100 level for the sixth consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the forward-looking indicators.    

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

See the full report for more details. More detailed data and analysis can be found on Restaurant TrendMapper, the Association's subscription-based service that provides detailed analysis of restaurant industry trends.

Watch a video summary of the January 2011 RPI, plus an update on how weather and food prices impact restaurants.

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