The National Restaurant Association reports restaurant performance improved in December. Foodservice operators kept on hiring in January. Restaurant traffic was flat in 2017 per The NPD Group. These articles and a whole lot more This Week in Foodservice.

The National Association’s Restaurant Performance Index showed a nice gain in December, rising 1.8 percent to 102.9. Any reading greater than 100 indicates growth. Driving the increase was a significant rise in the Current Situation, which jumped 3.4 percent from 99.6 in November to 102.9. The NRA pointed out this was the first time in 4 months the Current Situation Index exceeded 100. Moreover, the increase was caused by improvements right where most operators like to see them. Same-store sales were the strongest since mid-2015 while operators reported a net increase in customer traffic for the first time in 9 months.

To add more good news, operators’ confidence also improved with the Expectations Index rising 0.2 percent to a reading of 102.9. Fifty seven percent of operators believe their sales will be higher in 6 months over the same period a year earlier. And, 41 percent of operators believe the economy will be better in 6 months.

This optimism continues to impact operators’ willingness to spend money. Sixty two percent of those surveyed reported they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion and/or remodeling in the past 3 months. This is up from 50 percent in November. Further, 60 percent of operators plan on making a capital expenditure in the next 6 months.

All things considered, this is the most bullish report the NRA has put out in months. Now we have to wait and see if this is an aberition or the start of trend.

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For details and the latest same store sales for other chains, please click here for Green Sheet.