Driven by higher same-store sales and an improving outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) hit a 10-month high in April. The RPI—a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry—stood at 101 in April, up 0.4% from a level of 100.6 in March. In addition, April represented the third time in the last four months that the RPI topped the 100 level, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
“Growth in the Restaurant Performance Index was due largely to restaurant operators’ healthier outlook for the business environment in the coming months,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “In particular, there was a drop off in the proportion of operators who expect conditions to worsen in the months ahead, which suggests a broadening of the perspective that the expansion is firmly entrenched.”
Restaurant operators reported stronger same-store sales results in April. Forty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between April 2012 and April 2013, up from 44% who reported higher sales in March. Meanwhile, 33% of operators reported a drop in same-store sales in April, down from 37% in March.
Restaurant operators remain generally optimistic that their sales will improve in the coming months. Forty-one percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down slightly from 44% last month. However, only 10% of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down from 15% last month and the lowest level in 11 months.
Similarly, a smaller proportion of restaurant operators are bearish about the economy in the months ahead. Only 13% of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, down from 20% last month and the lowest level in 12 months.