Due in large part to softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) slipped below 100 in February. The RPI stood at 99.9 in February, down 0.8% from January’s five-month high. February represented the fourth time in the last five months that the RPI stood below 100, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.
“The Restaurant Performance Index decline was due largely to softer sales and traffic results, which fell in February amid higher gas prices and the impact of the payroll tax hike,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “In addition, sales and traffic comparisons were more difficult due to the extra day in February 2012 as a result of Leap Year.”
With sales comparisons more difficult in February due to Leap Year in 2012, restaurant operators reported a same-store sales decline for the first time in 21 months. Operators also reported a decline in customer traffic levels in February, with capital spending activity also dipping. Although restaurant operators’ outlook for sales growth remains positive, their expectations are slightly less bullish compared to last month.