• NRA study reports optimistic outlook for restaurant industry

    Tags: NAPICS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Restaurant Association reported that its comprehensive index of restaurant activity rose sharply in October.

According to a news release, the index (a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry) jumped 0.9 percent in October on the heels of a 0.1 percent gain in September.

"October's solid Index performance was the result of broad-based growth across the index components," said Hudson Riehle, NRA senior vice president of research and information services. "Each of the eight indicators registered gains in October, which propelled the index to its highest level in five months. In addition, the index reflected a boost in plans for staffing levels and capital expenditures — positive developments for both the restaurant industry and the overall economy."

The Restaurant Performance Index is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures. To view this month's index report, click here.

Last month, 55 percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between October 2003 and October 2004 — up from 53 percent in September. By contrast, only 28 percent of operators reported comp declines between October 2003 and October 2004. Seventeen percent of operators reported no change in sales volume.

Customer traffic results were also stronger in October. Forty-five percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between October 2003 and October 2004 — up from 40 percent who registered an increase in September. Only 31 percent of operators reported a traffic decline in October — down from 36 percent who reported a decline in September.

Sixty percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while only 8 percent of operators expect to have lower sales in the same period.

Operators also remain confident in the direction of the overall economy. Fifty-two percent of restaurant operators expect economic conditions in six months to be better than they are now. Only 9 percent expect economic conditions to worsen.

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