As a result of positive sales and traffic and an optimistic outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) remained in expansion territory in June. The RPI — a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry — stood at 101.3 in June, down 0.5 percent from May's level of 101.8. Despite the decline, June represented the fourth consecutive month that the RPI exceeded the 100 level, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

"Although the overall RPI dipped somewhat in June, it remained in positive territory as restaurant operators continued to report gains in both sales and customer traffic," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the NRA. "Looking forward, restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about the business environment in the months ahead, with the Expectations Index holding steady at a 12-month high."

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

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 100.7 in June — down 0.9 percent from a level of 101.6 in May. Despite the decline, the Current Situation Index remained above 100 for the third consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the current situation indicators.

Although a majority reported higher same-store sales in June, the results were somewhat softer than the solid May results. Fifty-two percent of operators reported a same-store sales gain between June 2012 and June 2013, down from 63 percent who reported higher sales in May. In comparison, 34 percent reported a decline in same-store sales in June, up from 23 percent in May.

Operators also reported softer traffic results in June. Forty-three percent reported higher customer traffic levels between June 2012 and June 2013, while 39 percent said their traffic declined. In May, 47 percent of operators reported an increase in customer traffic, while 30 percent reported lower traffic levels.

Despite the somewhat dampened sales and traffic results, restaurant operators reported steady capital spending levels. Fifty-two percent said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, unchanged from the proportion who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators stood at 102.0 in June — holding steady at the 12-month high registered in May.

Forty-six percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), essentially unchanged from the 47 percent who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, only 11 percent expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, compared to 8 percent last month.

Respondents remain somewhat less bullish about overall economic conditions. Thirty percent said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, a proportion that has remained essentially unchanged during the last six months. Sixteen percent said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, up slightly from 15 percent last month.

Operators continue to ramp up plans for capital spending in the months ahead: 59 percent plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up slightly from 57 percent who reported similarly last month.

Restaurant operators are also trending positive in their outlook for staffing levels in the coming months: 25 percent plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while 14 percent said they plan to cut positions.

Read more about trends and statistics.

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