WASHINGTON – The National Restaurant Performance Index rose to 100.6 in January, the highest level it has reached in five months and a 1 percent increase from December.

“Although the current situation indicators were mixed in January, restaurant operators were decidedly more optimistic about sales growth and the economy in the months ahead,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the research and knowledge group for the association. “Operators’ outlook for same-store sales, capital spending and the overall economy all improved, which propelled the expectations index to its highest level in eight months.”

Restaurant operators reported net positive same-store sales for the 20th consecutive month, with 44 percent of operators reporting a same-store sales gain and 37 percent reporting lower sales. In December, 42 percent of operators had higher same-store sales with 38 percent reporting a sales decline.

Operators reported a net decline in customer traffic for the second consecutive month with 33 percent of operators reporting higher customer traffic during the month while 40 percent said traffic declined.

Forty-six per cent of restaurant operators expected to have higher sales in six months, up from 37 percent during the previous month. Seventeen per cent of operators said sales volume will be lower than during the same period of the previous year. Additionally, 36 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 17 percent who said the same during the previous month. Twenty percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in six months, down from 29 percent who said the same last month.