Driven by stronger same-store sales and traffic levels and a more optimistic outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose above 100 in June.  The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.6 in June, up 0.8 percent from May’s level of 99.9.  In addition, June represented the sixth time in the last seven months that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The RPI’s solid improvement in June was due in large part to stronger same-store sales and customer traffic performances, which bounced back from their May declines,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “In addition, restaurant operators are optimistic that their sales environment will improve in the months ahead, while their outlook for capital spending also remains strong.” 

The RPI consists of two components, the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index.

Current Situation Index

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators: same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures, stood at 100.5 in June – up a solid 1.4 percent from May’s level of 99.2.

Restaurant operators reported stronger same-store sales and improviing customer traffic in June. 

  • 51 percent reported a same-store sales gain between June 2010 and June 2011, up from 39 percent of operators who reported higher same-store sales in May. 
  • 31 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in June, down from 40 percent of operators who reported lower sales in May.
  • 44 percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between June 2010 and June 2011, up from 33 percent of operators who reported higher traffic in May.
  • 33 percent of operators reported a traffic decline in June, down from 41 percent who reported lower traffic in May.

Along with improving sales and traffic results, restaurant operators reported an increase in capital spending activity. 

  • 48 percent said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, up from 44 percent who reported similarly last month.

Expectations Index

The Expectations Index measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions. The index stood at 100.7 in June – up slightly from May’s level of 100.6.

Restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead.

  • 40 percent expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), essentially unchanged from 41 percent who reported similarly last month;
  • Only 16 percent expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down from 20 percent who reported similarly last month.

In comparison, restaurant operators are somewhat less optimistic about the direction of the overall economy in the months ahead. However, they will continue to plan for capital spending in the months ahead.

  • 26 percent said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up slightly from 24 percent who reported similarly last month.
  • 20 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, compared to 21 percent last month.
  • 50 percent plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, matching the proportion who reported similarly last month. 

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