Store sales, traffic boost Restaurant Performance Index

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The foodservice sector may be on the upswing as the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA’s) Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose 0.3 percent in November to 101.2. The NRA credited the increase to same-store sales and improved customer traffic.

The RPI consists of two components — the current situation index and the expectations index. The current situation index includes data regarding same-store sales, restaurant traffic, labor and capital expenditures. A majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales for the second consecutive month in November. Fifty-seven percent said they recorded a same-store sales gain between November 2012 and November 2013, up from 54 percent in October and the highest level in six months. In comparison, 29 percent of operators reported a decline in same-store sales in November, compared to 30 percent in October.

Operators also reported improving customer traffic levels in November. Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators reported customer traffic growth between November 2012 and November 2013, up from 43 percent who reported a traffic gain in October. In comparison, 35 percent of operators reported a decline in customer traffic in November, down from 39 percent in October.

The RPI’s expectations index is a six-month outlook of four industry indicators, same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions. Restaurant operators are generally positive about sales expectations in the months ahead. Thirty-eight percent of operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up slightly from 36 percent who reported similarly in October. Meanwhile, only 9 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, while 53 percent expect their sales to remain about the same.

In comparison, restaurant operators are less optimistic about the direction of the economy. Twenty-four percent said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, while 19 percent expect the economy to worsen. The remaining 57 percent expect the economy to continue trending sideways during the next six months.
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