NRA's RPI Hit 101.9 in February

Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales for the ninth consecutive month.

The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) reached 101.9 in February. This marked the fourth consecutive month the NRA's RPI exceeded 100, signaling expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

The RPI measures the health of the restaurant industry in relation to a steady-state level of 100. Index values of more than 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, while index values less than 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 101.9 in February — up 1.3 percent from January's level of 100.6.

Key data points from the Current Situation Index include:

• Sixty-three percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between February 2011 and February 2012. Just 18 percent of operators reported lower same-store sales in February.

• Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between February 2011 and February 2012, while just 19 percent reported a traffic decline.

• Forty-seven percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, up from 42 percent who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 102.0 in February — essentially unchanged from January's level of 102.1.

Key data points from the Expectations Index include:

• Fifty-three percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), matching the proportion who reported similarly last month. In comparison, only nine 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.

• Thirty-five percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, while 14 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months.

• Twenty-four percent of restaurant operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just seven percent said they expect to reduce staffing levels in six months.

• Forty-nine percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, essentially unchanged from the proportion reporting similarly last month.

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