Restaurant Performance Index Improves to 99.9

Forty five percent of operators plan a capital expenditure in the next six months.

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The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) climbed to 99.9 in November. Despite this 0.5 percent increase November was the second consecutive month where the RPI stood at less than 100, signaling contraction among the collection of foodservice industry key economic indicators.

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"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."

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 99.8 in November — up 0.6 percent from a level of 99.3 in October. Despite a slight uptick, this index has stood at less than 100 four of the past five months. Other key data points from the Current Situation Index Include:

• Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between Nov. 2011 and Nov. 2012, up from 40 percent who reported positive sales in Oct. Thirty percent of operators reported lower same-store sales in November, down from 36 percent in October.

• Forty-three 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. Thirty five percent of operators reported lower customer traffic levels in November, down six percent from October.

• Thirty-seven percent of operators made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, the lowest level in 32 months.

The Expectations Index stood at 100.0 in November — up 0.4 percent from October. Key data points from the Expectations Index include:

• Thirty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 31 percent last month. Meanwhile, 14 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down from 21 percent last month.

• Forty-five percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next 6 months, down from 50 percent who reported similarly last month.

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