September also represented the first time in three months the RPI stood above 100, the level above which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
“The September increase in the Restaurant Performance Index was fueled by improvements in the same-store sales and customer traffic indicators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the association. “Among the forward-looking indicators, restaurant operators are more optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead, while their outlook for the overall economy remains cloudy.”
Consisting of two components — the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators’ six-month outlook) — the Restaurant Performance Index tracks the health of and outlook for the US restaurant industry. The Current Situation Index stood at 100.1 in September — up 0.8 percent from August and the first gain in three months. The Current Situation Index also rose above 100 for the first time since June.
Restaurant operators reported stronger same-store sales and customer traffic in September. Fifty percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between September 2010 and September 2011, up from 45 percent who reported a sales gain in August. In addition, 43 percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between September 2010 and September 2011, while 33 percent of operators reported a traffic decline.
The Expectations Index stood at 100.2 in September — up 0.7 percent from August and the strongest gain in nine months. In addition, September represented the first time in three months that the Expectations Index stood above 100.