WASHINGTON – Stronger same-store sales and increased customer traffic lifted the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) to a 10-month high in March, the National Restaurant Association reported. The RPI was 101.4, up 0.9 percent from the index of 100.5 recorded in February.
“The solid March increase in the RPI was fueled by stronger sales and traffic levels, which bounced back from the weather-challenged results in recent months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “Looking forward, restaurant operators are increasingly optimistic about sales gains, and a majority plan to make capital expenditure in the next six months.”
The RPI's current situation index, which measures four trends — same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures — climbed 1.5 percent to 100.8 in March from 99.3 in February. Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between March 2013 and March 2014, while 32 percent of reported a sales decline. Additionally, 46 percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between March 2013 and March 2014, while 33 percent reported a decline in customer traffic.
The RPI's expectations index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 102.0 in March — up 0.3 percent from February. Restaurant operators remain optimistic about business conditions and sales gains in the months ahead.
Forty-nine percent of restaurant operators expect higher sales in six months (compared to the same period a year ago), up from 40 percent in February and the highest level in nearly two years. Meanwhile, 6 percent of restaurant operators expect sales volumes in the next six months to be lower than it was during the same period a year ago.
Restaurant operators’ are less optimistic in their outlook for the economy. Twenty-eight percent of restaurant operators expect economic conditions to improve in six months, while 14 percent expect the economy to worsen. The remaining 58 percent said they expect economic conditions to remain mostly unchanged in the next six months.