Restaurant Performance Index fell to a record low in March

Due in large part to plunging sales and customer traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) fell to its lowest level on record in March. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 95.0 in March, down 6.7 percent from a level of 101.9 in February. 

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators, stood at 93.1 in March – down 9.6 percent from February and the lowest level on record. The previous low was in December 2008 (95.7), during the depths of the financial crisis. 

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four industry indicators, stood at 97.0 in March – down 3.8 percent from a level of 100.8 in February. The dampened level indicates that restaurant operators do not anticipate a rapid improvement in their business environment during the next few 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 4/30/2020