Restaurant Performance Index increased 0.6% in September

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose for the third consecutive month in September, as restaurant operators reported improving sales. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 98.1 in September, up 0.6% from August and the highest level since February. 

Although overall sales readings improved somewhat from the pandemic lows, fully six in 10 restaurant operators said their September same-store sales remained below year-ago levels. In addition, most restaurant operators are not expecting a sustained return to normal business conditions any time soon, as only one in three think their sales will surpass pre-pandemic levels in six months. 

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators, stood at 96.8 in September – up 1.1% from a level of 95.7 in August. While September represented the highest Current Situation Index reading since the start of the pandemic, it still remained firmly entrenched in contraction territory.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four industry indicators, stood at 99.5 – up 0.1% from the previous month. While the Expectations Index is inching closer to the 100 level, it continues to signal a high degree of uncertainty among restaurant operators about business conditions in the coming months     

Read the full RPI report.

RPI Methodology

The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) is a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and the outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry. Launched in 2002, the RPI is released on the last business day of each month.

The RPI is measured in relation to a neutral level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, while index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. The Index consists of two components — the Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), and the Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions).

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures. Restaurant operators interested in participating in the tracking survey: contact Bruce Grindy.

For more detailed analysis of the RPI and Industry Tracking Survey data, see Restaurant TrendMapper.

Updated 10/30/2020