As a result of softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) registered a moderate decline in December. The RPI—a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry—stood at 100.5 in December, down 0.6% from November and the first decline in three months. Despite the decline, the RPI remained above 100 for the 10th consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
“The December decline in the RPI was due to a dip in the current situation indicators, which in turn was partly caused by inclement weather in large parts of the country,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “Despite the softer December results, restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead.”
Restaurant operators reported net positive same-store sales for the 10th consecutive month in December, but results were much softer than recent months. Forty-four percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between December 2012 and December 2013, down from 57% who reported higher sales in November. In comparison, 41% of operators reported a decline in same-store sales in December, up from 29% in November.
Restaurant operators also reported softer customer traffic levels in December. Thirty percent of restaurant operators reported customer traffic growth between December 2012 and December 2013, down from 47% who reported a traffic gain in November. In comparison, 46% of operators reported a decline in customer traffic in December, up from 35% in November.
Restaurant operators are generally positive about sales expectations in the coming months. Thirty-eight percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), unchanged from the proportion who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, 13% of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, while 49% expect their sales to remain about the same.