Restaurant Performance Index Hits 10-Month High

Restaurant operators' outlook for sales growth and the economy improved.

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The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) increased 0.4 percent to reach 101 in April, a 10-month high. In addition, April represented the third time in the last four months that the RPI topped the 100 level, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 100.1 in April — up 0.3 percent from a level of 99.8 in March. Key data points from the Current Situation Index include:

  • Forty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between April 2012 and April 2013, up from 44 percent who reported higher sales in March. Thirty-three percent of operators reported a drop in same-store sales in April, down from 37 percent in March.
  • Thirty-six percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between April 2012 and April 2013, while 40 percent of operators said their traffic declined.
  • Forty-seven percent of operators saying they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, down from 51 percent who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 101.9 in April — up 0.5 percent from March and the highest level in 11 months. Key data points include:

  • Forty-one percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down slightly from 44 percent last month. However, only 10 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down from 15 percent last month and the lowest level in 11 months.
  • Only 13 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, down from 20 percent last month and the lowest level in 12 months. Meanwhile, 28 percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, down from 32 percent who reported similarly last month.
  • Fifty-nine percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 55 percent who reported similarly last month.
  • Twenty-two percent of operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just 10 percent said they plan to cut positions.
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