U.S. restaurant performance hits four-month high in October

December 4, 2013

Fueled by stronger same-store sales and traffic and a more optimistic outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose to a four-month high in October. The RPI—a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry—stood at 100.9 in October, up 0.7% from September and the strongest level since June. In addition, the RPI stood above 100 for the eighth consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The RPI’s October gain was driven by broad-based gains in the index components, most notably solid improvements in same-store sales and customer traffic,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “Looking forward, restaurant operators are relatively optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead, though their outlook for the overall economy remains mixed.”

A majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales in October, and the results were a solid improvement over September’s performance. Fifty-four percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between October 2012 and October 2013, up from 41% who reported higher sales in September. In comparison, 30% of operators reported a decline in same-store sales in October, down from 40% in September.

Restaurant operators also reported stronger customer traffic levels in October. Forty-three percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between October 2012 and October 2013, up from 33% who reported a traffic gain in September. Meanwhile, 39% of operators reported a decline in customer traffic in October, down from 44% in September.

Restaurant operators' outlook for sales growth in the months ahead remains cautiously optimistic. Thirty-six percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up slightly from 34% who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, 11% 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 13% last month.

Press release