CHICAGO – The Restaurant Performance Index made gains in November, but remained stuck below 100, according to the National Restaurant Association. NRA attributed the gain to positive same-store sales and customer traffic results.

“The November gain in the RPI was driven by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels, both of which registered their strongest performance in three months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “However, restaurant operators remain concerned about the direction of the overall economy, due in large part to the uncertainty around the fiscal cliff.”

The RPI's Current Situation Index, which measures current trends, stood at 99.8 in November — up 0.6 percent from 99.3 in October. The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook, stood at 100.0 in November — up 0.4 percent from October. The RPI consists of the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index and tracks the health of and outlook for the US restaurant industry.

Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales for the 18th straight month, with November having the strongest showing. NRA said 43 percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between November 2011 and November 2012, up from 30 percent who reported positive traffic in October.

NRA said industry stakeholders are somewhat more optimistic about sales growth in the near term. Thirty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months compared to the year-ago period, up from 31 percent in October. However, restaurant operators remain generally pessimistic about the direction of the overall economy, according to the NRA.