Restaurant Performance Index Declined in September

Operators remain upbeat despite challenging sales and traffic numbers.

The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index declined to 100.4 in September, down 0.3 percent from August. Despite the decline, September represented the 11th consecutive month the RPI exceeded 100, indicating expansion in the index.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 99.9 in September — down 0.7 percent from a level of 100.6 in August. Although same-store sales remained positive in September, the softness in the labor and customer traffic indicators outweighed the performance, which led to a Current Situation Index reading of less than 100 for the second time in the last three months, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Key data points from the Current Situation Index include:

  • Forty-eight percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between September 2011 and September 2012, down from 61 percent in August. And 35 percent of operators reported lower same-store sales in September, up from 25 percent in August.
  • Thirty-six percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between September 2011 and September 2012, down from 47 percent in August. In comparison, 41 percent of operators reported lower customer traffic levels in September, up from 32 percent in August.
  • Forty-nine percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, up from 41 percent who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook, stood at 100.9 in September — up 0.2 percent from August. Key data points from the Expectations Index include:

  • Forty-five percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 40 percent last month. Meanwhile, only 11 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, compared to 12 percent last month.
  • Forty-four percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, unchanged from last month.
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