Girls dining out
Higher same-store sales and improved operator outlook lifted the RPI for October.

WASHINGTON – The Restaurant Performance Index advanced 0.7 percent to 102.1 in October, the National Restaurant Association reported. The RPI for September was 101.4. October represented the 32nd consecutive month the index stood above 100, indicating expansion of key industry indicators.

“The October gain in the RPI was buoyed by broad-based improvements in the current situation indicators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group. “In addition, restaurant operators are somewhat more optimistic about both sales growth and the economy in the months ahead.”

The index consists of the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index. For October, the Current Situation Index climbed 1.2 percent to 102.5, the highest level in three months, NRA said. Six in 10 restaurant operators reported gains in same-store sales with October posting the strongest performance.

Forty-one percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between October 2014 and 2015, down slightly from 42 percent in September. For October, 36 percent of restaurant operators reported declines in customer traffic compared to 38 percent in September.

Capital spending remained healthy. Seventy-six percent of operators reported making capital expenditures for equipment, expansion or remodeling within the last three months.

The Expectations Index edged higher in October at 101.6 compared to 101.4 reported in September, the NRA said. Restaurant operators have a more optimistic outlook for sales with 40 percent of restaurant operators expecting to have higher sales in the next six months, up from 35 percent in September. Only 6 percent of restaurant operators expect sales volumes to decline, down from 12 percent a month ago.

Only 9 percent of restaurant operators expect the economy to worsen, while 19 percent expect economic conditions to improve within six months.

A majority of restaurant operators are planning for capital expenditures in the future. Fifty-one percent of restaurant operators said they plan to make a capital expenditure, down from 62 percent who reported similarly in September, the NRA said.