U.S. restaurant performance hit a five-month high in November

January 2, 2014

Driven by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) hit a five-month high in November 2013. The RPI—a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry—stood at 101.2 in November, up 0.3% from October and the strongest level since June. In addition, the RPI stood above 100 for the ninth consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Recent growth in the RPI was fueled in large part by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “In addition, restaurant operators are somewhat more confident that sales levels will improve, and a majority plan to make a capital expenditure in the next six months.”

A majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales for the second consecutive month in November. Fifty-seven percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between November 2012 and November 2013, up from 54% in October and the highest level in six months. In comparison, 29% of operators reported a decline in same-store sales in November, compared to 30% in October.

Restaurant operators also reported improving customer traffic levels in November. Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators reported customer traffic growth between November 2012 and November 2013, up from 43% who reported a traffic gain in October. In comparison, 35% of operators reported a decline in customer traffic in November, down from 39% in October.

Restaurant operators are generally positive about sales expectations in the months ahead. Thirty-eight percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up slightly from 36% who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, only 9% 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 53% expect their sales to remain about the same.

Press release