WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Restaurant Association's comprehensive index of restaurant activity — a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry — stood at 101.7 in December, up 0.6 percent from November and its strongest level in six months, the NRA announced. 
December also represented the 44th consecutive month the RPI stood above 100, a level which represents expansion in the Association's composite index of eight key industry indicators. 
"Fueled by strong same-store sales, December's solid index performance was the result of an impressive gain in the Current Situation component of the RPI," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research and Information Services for the NRA.  "Fifty-four percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain in December, and a majority of operators expect same-store sales growth to continue in the months ahead."
Restaurant operators cited recruiting and retaining employees as the number-one challenge currently facing their business, Riehle said.
The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on indicators including sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures.  The RPI consists of two components - the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index. 
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