Restaurant Performance Index Inched Up in January

Industry performance improves despite sluggish business conditions, including declining customer traffic.

The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) posted a modest gain in January, climbing 0.2 percent to 100.5.

"Restaurant operators are more optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead, which is also reflected in ramped up plans for capital spending," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the NRA. "However, current situation indicators such as customer traffic, were dampened in January, due in large part to adverse weather conditions."

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in 4 industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 99.5 in January — unchanged from December. Key data points from the Current Situation Index include:

  • Forty-five percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between January 2013 and January 2014, while 40 percent of operators reported a sales decline.
  • Thirty-three percent of restaurant operators reported customer traffic growth between January 2013 and January 2014, while 50 percent of operators reported a traffic decline.
  • Fifty-seven percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, the ninth consecutive month in which a majority of operators reported making expenditures.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' 6-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 101.8 in January – up 0.3 percent from December and the highest level in seven months. Key data points from the Expectations Index include:

  • Forty-one percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in 6 months (compared to the same period in the previous year), 11 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume to decline and 48 percent expect their sales to be flat.
  • Sixty-four percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next 6 months, up from 61 percent who reported similarly last month.
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