Cautiously upbeat operators reporting stronger same-store sales and customer traffic gains helped to spur a slight gain in the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index for August.
The NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index, a monthly composite that tracks the health of and outlook for the foodservice industry, rose to 100.6 in August, an increase of 0.4 percent over July results, the NRA said.
August also marked the 10th consecutive month the RPI was above the 100 mark, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
“Growth in the RPI was driven largely by improving same-store sales and customer traffic results in August,” said Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group, in a statement. “Six out of 10 restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales in August, while customer traffic readings bounced back from July’s net decline.
“In contrast, the Expectations Index remained dampened compared to recent stronger levels, with restaurant operators retaining a cautious outlook for sales growth and the economy in the months ahead,” Riehle added.
The NRA’s RPI comprises two components — the Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures; and the Expectations Index, which measures operators’ six-month outlook for same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions.
The Current Situation Index rose to 100.6, an increase of 0.8 percent over July’s level of 99.8 — which marked a dip beneath the 100 mark for the first time in nine months. The August result reflects a return to expansion in the index of current situation indicators, the NRA said.
Sixty-one percent of those operators surveyed said same-store sales rose between August 2011 and August 2012 — an increase from 53 percent who reported positive sales in July. In comparison, 25 percent of operators posted a decline in same-store sales in August, a decrease from 36 percent in July.
The RPI’s Expectations Index for August was 100.7, unchanged from July. And while August was the 12th consecutive month the Expectations Index stood above 100, it is still nearly two index points below the post-recession peak last March, the NRA said, noting however, that operators are generally optimistic about future sales levels.
The NRA found that 40 percent of operators anticipate that sales volumes will improve over the next six months compared with the same period a year ago. By comparison, 42 reported similarly in July. Twelve percent of restaurant operators anticipate that their sales will be lower in six months than it was during the same period in the preceding year, a decrease from 15 percent last month.
The RPI is based on responses to the NRA’s monthly tracking survey.