Fueled by improving same-store sales and customer traffic and a positive outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose for the second consecutive month. The RPI—a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry—stood at 101.7 in April, up 0.3% from March and the strongest level since May 2013. In addition, the RPI stood above 100 for the 14th consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
“The recent rise in the RPI was fueled by improvements in same-store sales and customer traffic, which are back on a positive trajectory after the winter soft patch,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “In addition, restaurant operators have an optimistic outlook for business conditions in the months ahead, which is reflected by the expectations component of the RPI rising to its highest level in two years.”
For the second consecutive month, a majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales. Fifty-one percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between April 2013 and April 2014, while 26% reported a sales decline. In March, 55% of operators reported higher same-store sales, while 32% said their sales declined.
Restaurant operators reported a net gain in customer traffic levels for the second straight month, after registering declines in the previous three months. Forty-four percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic levels between April 2013 and April 2014, while 30% reported a decline. In March, 46% of operators said their traffic rose from the previous year, while 33% reported a decline.
Restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about sales gains in the months ahead. Forty-six percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down slightly from 49% 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 just 6% last month.