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National Restaurant Association - RPI hit 5-month high in January

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RPI hit 5-month high in January

Driven by a more optimistic outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index rose to its highest level in five months in January. The RPI stood at 100.6 in January, up 1.0 percent from December and its highest level since August 2012. In addition, January represented the first time in four months that the RPI rose above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Although the current situation indicators were mixed in January, restaurant operators were decidedly more optimistic about sales growth and the economy in the months ahead,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. "Operators’ outlook for same-store sales, capital spending and the overall economy all improved, which propelled the Expectations Index to its highest level in eight months.”

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 99.7 in January – up 0.6 percent from December’s level.  Although restaurant operators reported net positive same-store sales results in January, softness in the customer traffic and labor indicators outweighed the performance, which resulted in a Current Situation Index reading below 100 for the fifth consecutive month. 

Despite the mixed sales and traffic results, restaurant operators reported an increase in capital spending activity. Fifty-two percent of operators saying they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, up from 45 percent who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index stood at 101.6 in January – up 1.3 percent from December’s level. January’s solid gain was driven by improvements in each of the forward-looking indicators, and resulted in the highest level for the Expectations Index in eight months. Restaurant operators’ outlook for sales growth continues to improve from the uncertain period surrounding the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012. Restaurant operators are also more bullish in their plans for capital spending in the months ahead, as 59 percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 50 percent who reported similarly last month.

More details are available at Restaurant.org/RPI.

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